The Benefits of Photographing with Back Light

A lot of times new photographers hear about the golden hours or feel that natural light is too tricky to work with so they get discouraged. Corey Rich helps us understand how to make natural light work to your benefit and use it as a back light to make your photos look outstanding from sun up to sun down:

When the sun is high in the sky it can cast a lot of harsh shadows and be distracting and unattractive in a photo. If your subject is front lit, things will look washed out and those shadows make a lot of sharp lines.

When you move the light behind your subject and expose for the shadow on your subject you start thinking creatively with your light and making it work for you.

light comparison

Rim Light

Shooting with back light creates a nice sunny border around your subject. This frames your subject and keeps all the edges of the light at the borders of your subject. Now the entire front of your subject can be evenly exposed and there are no harsh lines. Your subject will stand out from the background.

exposing for the shadows


Since the entire front of your subject is in full shadow you only need to find the right exposure for that shadow. Once you find that you won’t need to worry about it again while you shoot.

face in shadow

No Squinting

With the sun behind the subject they won’t need to squint into the sun, and this relaxes their face and makes them more comfortable.

sunlight behind

When you use the light to your advantage you lose all the restrictions about when it’s alright to shoot and when it’s not. How will you use back light to make your photos stand out?

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One response to “The Benefits of Photographing with Back Light”

  1. Ian Ford says:

    I like the idea of backlit portraits but generally find a fill flash is necessary. Did you manage all these shots without?

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