Reflections : Natural Reflectors

Happy Wednesday, y'all! I decided to revisit a post from last week and create a Reflections entry about it because it was one of the toughest shoots I had in regard to lighting. This time of year can present tricky lighting situations and when I shot this photo session a couple weeks ago, it was no exception. I usually arrange the a session about an hour and a half before sunset if I'm shooting along the coast. I can usually find open shade to shoot the couple in until the sun has fallen and created a nice, orangey glow around sunset. However, when you're shooting on a boat dock, you're not given that luxury as open shade isn't readily available.

I arrived early to scope out the location and realized there was, literally, no where else to shoot besides the dock. And it was blazing. That's when I went into red-DELAY-THIS-SHOOT-alert, but kept my demeanor calm on the outside. I needed to buy some time before getting the boat on the water because it was far too bright to shoot, so I assessed my options and here's a photo of what they were:

You can see from the photo above the light was scattered in between each boat, but I made mental notes of where the natural reflectors were and where I could place my subjects on open shade. Now, the photo below didn't make the final edit because I felt the natural reflector was far too distracting, but I'm showing it here to put into context how I positioned the bride and groom in relation to the reflector, which was about 3-4 feet from them.

Whenever I'm using natural reflectors, I try to omit them from the frame so I don't reveal the light source, as it's usually blown out and distracting in a photo. In the photo below, the natural reflector is just left to the frame and is bouncing light back onto their faces. If the reflector wasn't there, their faces would be far too shadowed since the sun was so harsh.

In the following photo, I had about four feet of shade to work with…which is less than ideal, I know…but you have to take what you have and make it work. I grabbed a stool and asked the couple to share it. The main natural reflector for this shot is about two feet in front of them on the pavement, which bounced light back onto their faces.

I hope this helps put into context how I shoot using only available light. Yes, it's sometimes difficult, but I prefer natural, life-like imagery and using artificial reflectors or fill-flash takes that away from me. If this explanation was confusing…forgive me…it's all I have and maybe I'll try again in the near future to explain my approach and thought process! 🙂