How To Shoot Portraits In Low Light: 4 Tips by Sam Fu

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| Sam Fu
December 13, 2017
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Shooting in low light is super hard! Shooting portraits in low light is even harder. That's why you need the advice of a pro. Sam Fu boils it all down to 4 super awesome, actionable tips.

Tip 1 - Match Your Mood + Model.

When going for a specific look/mood, choosing the right model is very important in order to achieve the look you want. Not everyone can pull off certain looks. For an example, when shooting a nitty gritty street scene, you want to play up the moody vibe. 

Find someone that’s able to fit that mood. A model who smiles in every photograph, or someone who rocks a more commercial lifestyle look might not fit the darker mood you’re trying to create. Finding the right person to convey your message is essential to enhancing the scenery/mood.

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Tip 2 - Find Good Ambient Light.

I think we can all agree that lighting is the most important part of a photograph. Especially when photographing at night, when light can be very scarce. 

Look for light from lamp posts, light from restaurant/bar windows, & neon lights. Not all light sources are the same. They will all produce different color values and intensities in your images.

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Tip 3 - Composition is King.

Being someone who shoots fashion & portraits a lot, I’m also very drawn to minimalism & architecture. I regularly look for leading lines, shapes, and negative space, as I'm planning my shot.

I usually want the lines of a building or structure to lead to the person I’m shooting. Doing so draws a viewer's eyes to your subject. 

Including shapes, abstracted from buildings, the landscape, or a combination of both, can make for an interesting composition as well. Before I start shooting, I look at the location through my iPhone camera to see what it would look like.

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Tip 4 - Don't Be Afraid to Experiment.

This is a very important part of photography that will help you learn. Don’t be afraid to experiment! 

When you’re in situations with low light, you’re limited by your light source. Try different angles. Pose your subject(s) in different ways. 

Try manipulating the light somehow or bringing your own light source. Not everyone has the same shooting style. So just experiment & find what works best for you.

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