How To Capture Amazing Shadow Photos

As photographers, we know to look for the light! It is one of the most important aspects of a photo, and can often turn a lackluster image into a spectacular one. The times of day when the lighting is at its best – during beautiful sunsets, for example, and after a storm, or during the golden hour can result in some truly striking images.

But while lighting is tremendously important, the absence of light, is important too. We’re talking about shadows, and yes – these blocks of darkness can create some unique and intriguing photos. In fact, far from simply being an absence of light, shadows help to shape the light, and draw attention to it.

They can also add a sense of visual interest to a photo, directing attention, and can add contrast and depth to an image.

image by jwltr freiburg

Mysterious and intriguing, these dark spaces can add a lot more to an image than you may have ever thought possible. Here’s how you can use shadows to enhance your photos.

Compositional Tips

While shadows are often unwanted in images – during a portrait, or on a subject’s face, for example – don’t rule out shadows completely! In the right context, a shadow can drastically enhance a composition, adding a vivid sense of interest and drama. Here are a few ways that shadows can liven up a composition.

image by Ines Njers

Photo Opportunities

Shadow photography provides the perfect opportunity to develop your photographic eye. Photographing shadows encourages you to be creative and break from routine, and gets you in the mode to look for interesting and unique photo opportunities. Here are some photographic opportunities that you can look for.

image by Kevin Dooley

Quality of Light

Not all shadows are created equal! The light will have a big impact on the resulting shadow, and will determine how harsh or soft it is. Direct lighting will result in strong and well-defined shadows, while softly diffused light will create softer shadows. The best shadows for your image depend upon the type of composition that you’re going for, and the mood that you’re trying to create.

While it’s easy to focus on paying attention to the light, don’t forget the shadows in the process. By learning to read both the light, and the shadows, you’ll be able to take advantage of both of these powerful compositional elements to capture some truly spectacular results.

Have you incorporated shadows into you photography? We’d love to see your results! Please share your tips or photos with us via Twitter or Facebook.