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Seeing light & creating feelings

November 29, 2018

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me different. After all, you have so many wonderful photographers to pick from. Every year there are more & more photographers. Some start charging for photography or start a business because they think it will be fun or easy. Or they think it’ll be a quick way to make money. 

I have been shooting ever since I can remember, & I mean that quite literally. In the late 90’s I got my first disposable film camera when I was about 2 or 3, after going through a few of those, I got my first real camera & learned photography on film. For the last 10+ years I have really worked on my landscape photography & for the last 5+ years I have really worked on my photography of people with portraits, weddings, & elopements

Matt + Suzy | elopement photography in Moab, Utah with light at sunset

Light is the core of photography. The word photography comes from the Greek words photos (“light”) & graphe (“drawing”). The most important thing you can learn about photography is light. I always prefer natural light but I also love shooting fun portraits at night with artificial lighting.

When you are using only natural light, you cannot always control it. But when you have the knowledge & skills to see the light in a way that you can use it, you can control how you capture the light. That may mean directing the subject to where the light is best, changing your settings to show the light in the best way, having a knowledge of editing so you can show how beautiful that light really is, or if you shoot film, choosing the right type of film to show off the beautiful light in the way you want.

bridal portrait | Colorado fine art film photographer

So why am I writing about seeing light when it is a skill that all professional photographers need & use? Because I believe my way of seeing & using light is different. I don’t only shoot ‘moody’ or ‘light & airy’, I don’t only shoot romantic images or only shoot fun photos. While my image colors & photography style stay consistent, I work on capturing the light in such a way as to create emotions & show what the subjects in the image are feeling & how I felt in creating the image.

This may mean changing settings, using a different film stock, or repositioning myself to get the best light so the viewer can see & feel what I want them to see & feel. It may also mean double exposing to create something fun or romantic, exposing the film to create light leaks, or changing lenses to create lens flares.

double exposure film photography | Portra 800

It’s only recently that I’ve noticed how much I love light! Even with clients pointing out what they love about my photography is the way I use light. The way it shines down & makes everything just feel alive, the way it changes color, & the way it adds dimension to the world around us. I prefer natural light, just as a prefer everything else to be as natural as possible. I like to work with & around natural light, rather than always trying to control it or create light. This presents its own set of challenges but its the way I have always loved to create my images!

light coming through the trees in a forest in Banff National Park, Canada

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