I was looking through one of my favorite photography books the other day, Steve McCurry South Southeast. He is one of my favorite photojournalists. In his career, he has survived a plane crash at sea, a beating and near drowning in India by zealous crowds at a religious festival, and was nearly killed by a rival Mujahadeen faction. He was reported killed twice. All his photographs have 3 very important qualities to them: composition, subject and light. His subject matter ranges widely but they all work powerfully to evoke something within. To me though, it is his use of light that elevates his work. A stream of light coming through a window, dramatic side lighting on a herd of camels, women in a desert windstorm in an orange dusk light, front lighting that ignites emerald in the green of an eye. Every photo is made extraordinary as a result of his use of light. In the field there is no-one around to hold a bounce reflector to fill in the shadows... you have no choice but to study it and master it... and make it your own.
These winter months have left me longing for natural light. Although studio lighting will always have it's place, natural light is king. It is magic. Bring on spring!
The photo below is from a photoshoot with Primary NY last year. We had been using studio lighting, but switched to natural light to soften the looks. Note how the hair is slightly back lit, the skin illuminated, the folds of the fabric highlighted. A perfect example of taking advantage of directional lighting (and working with a great model, thanks Lauren!).