Hard Light: It's Big and Worth a Try!

Identifying trends in commercial photography is important. It helps you develop your practice and keeps you on your toes! One of those trends right now is hard light. Hit that subject hard, cast some shadows, and make it look like we're all shooting poolside, sipping piña coladas!

Shooting using a mix of strobes,, constant, and natural light can be an incredibly rewarding experience and is something that every photographer wanting to earn money from their craft should aim to gain experience with. I cut my teeth shooting food in totally natural light, hugging restaurant windows, and surreptitiously unscrewing Edison filament bulbs that were causing temperature havoc with my bao buns. I still swear by the sun's almighty rays in all their shiny glory, but learning the ins and outs of strobe and constant lighting has been an absolute game-changer in my career, particularly when consistency and reliability are a high priority.

It's important to know your light sources and how best to use them at the absolute behest of the photography brief, client, or simply in order to come away with that general idea you have. You may have noticed that shadows and hard light have really crept into the commercial realm in recent months and years. Trying to replicate these results using just sunlight or just one strobe can be challenging. In this video, Joanie Simon shows you all you need to know and more. From using what you have are hand and manipulating it to constant and strong strobes with appropriate modifiers, Joanie does what she does best, delivering instructional and articulate content with wit and charm.

Please be careful here. If you haven't come across Joanie's videos before, then I urge you to first cast aside that rock you've been living under, then be ready to find yourself eight videos and three hours in, eating ramen noodles and deciding that the post office trip can wait until tomorrow. Even if food isn't necessarily your bag, there'll be something in this video and certainly in Joanie's back catalog for you. 

Michael Barrow's picture

I'm a food and lifestyle photographer, currently living and working in London.

I’ve worked as a writer and educator in photography and maintain a deep and unhealthy relationship with food and cooking. As such you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties.

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1 Comment

But... But... The harder the light, the smaller it is!