Charleston Photography Tutorial

Tips for Great Photos in Difficult Conditions

May 11, 2017

Hi there!  We’re back again with some more photography insights.   The most ideal conditions for shooting great photos are as close as possible to sunrise or sunset.  As a working mom, this doesn’t always fit the agenda for the day.  I hate to miss bedtime and so often have to shoot in less favorable conditions — well worth it!   I know that many of us have similarly busy schedules or might be out midday and see something “Instagram” worthy but not quite understand the best way to shoot it.  Today, we (Will & I) set ourselves the challenge of sharing our tips and tricks for shooting great photos in harsh conditions, I hope that they are helpful!

Tips for great photos with Lucy CuneoTips for great photos with Lucy Cuneo

Tip 1:  Find open shade. This is a biggie!  It means find as much consistent, even shade as possible.   We’re so lucky Charleston’s buildings downtown are high enough to provide a nice amount of shade throughout the day.  I find this is the most ideal set-up because the light is even and flattering on skin, or even on the detail of a building — say a window box or pretty shutter.

Tips for great photos with Lucy Cuneo

Tip 2: Try to find backlight.  I love backlight!  I think it adds some dynamic interest to the image.  The light coming through the alley way behind the jasmine arch in these images is gentle backlight and super pretty.  It lights up the flowers and provides a nice amount of depth to the image which could otherwise fall flat.

Tips for great photos with Lucy CuneoTips for great photos with Lucy CuneoTips for great photos with Lucy Cuneo

Tip 3: Find reflected light.  The light paint colors of the buildings and the light of the gray of the pavement bounce up into the subject’s eyes and face, this is a great thing as long as it’s not too much.  Sometimes if you are standing in the shade and the pavement is very very “hot” (aka bright), too much light can bounce up into the chin making the face distort a bit.  You want a nice amount of even light around for ideal conditions.

Tips for great photos with Lucy Cuneo

I hope that this is helpful! Please let me know if anything is unclear! We go into a bit more detail here in this video that I made with the amazing Pat Black!



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  • Reply Michele May 11, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Love the tips! They give so much more insight for picking/finding the perfect lighting. I was wondering if the video link is missing? I am not able to see it. I’ll check back later to watch it! Thank again for the tips 🙂

    • Reply Lucy Cuneo May 11, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Michele, I have corrected it! thank you so much for pointing it out! xx

  • Reply Taylor May 11, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Love these tips! Thank you so much for sharing, these are so helpful as I am trying to improve my photography!

    Taylor |

  • Reply Niamh Marie May 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve always loved the light in your photos, and was so excited to see this post! Thanks so much for sharing all of these tips. I hope it’s a series you’ll continue 🙂

    Niamh |

    • Reply Lucy Cuneo May 17, 2017 at 12:33 am

      Absolutely Niamh! Let me know if there is anything specific you’d like to learn! xx

      • Reply Niamh Marie May 23, 2017 at 8:30 pm

        Do you think you could do a post on how to pose without looking forced, or the best way to get ‘authentic’ looking portraits? Such a difficult thing to learn, but you always look so natural! 🙂

  • Reply Sally May 11, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Hi Lucy,
    Thank you so so much for your amazing tips. You’re so lucky to live in Charleston where you have lovely daylight and sun most of the time. But what about living in the Northern hemisphere where it’s really cloudy and dark 80% of the year? You eather have to deal with very dark grey clouds giving you not enough light for beautiful summery pictures or you have those white sky creating a very harsh light. Do you have any tips shooting in that conditions? I would be extremely happy about your help so that my summer outfits don’t look like being shot in the winter anymore :)! Thank you so much!
    Greetings from Germany from an enthusiastic follower of your blog and Insta 🙂
    Yours, Sally

    • Reply Lucy Cuneo May 17, 2017 at 12:34 am

      Sally… hmm! I would love to see some sample images. I can imagine that you have some pretty spectacular late afternoon/early evening light, close to sunset? xx

  • Reply Abby Capalbo May 11, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    I love this Lucy! The video is so helpful! (And you are adorable)

  • Reply Katie McC | Katie's Kronicles May 16, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing!!!!!! I live in FL and it’s direct lighting almost ALL day so these tips are very helpful for a girl who loves bright and cheery photos but also wants a non-shadowed photo. Loving the videos! You have a beautiful voice. They are really helpful and not to long!

    Katie |

  • Reply irina June 17, 2017 at 3:08 am

    Hey I was wondering where the footage was shot in the intro of the video in 0:27. Its absolutely beautiful! Thanks:)

  • Reply Kate July 6, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Hey Lucy! How do you curl your hair?

    • Reply lucy cuneo July 11, 2017 at 11:18 pm

      Hi Kate! I’ll do a post on this 🙂 xx

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