Moments do not confine themselves to natural light

One of the first questions I am asked about client sessions by my workshoppers and mentees is “what do you do if there is no natural light”?  As a lifestyle photographer you can gently nudge your clients (and children for personal images) over to the natural light areas in a house.  When you are shooting documentary family photography you can’t depend on the moments happening in the “good light”.  So what is a photographer to do?

Well I document the moments as they happen.  If I have to use overhead natural lights or even a flash to get the job done that is what I do.  Last night Chloe was playing with her microphone stand and started singing Adele on the bed.  Ummmm ok.  WHERE is my camera???  Luckily they were both in my room because I am currently comparing the Sigma 24 1.4 to the Nikon 24 1.8 to look at quality differences.  I snapped a few while she sang on each camera and then started thinking.  I turned on the overhead light and waited for moments when it wasn’t creating harsh shadows on her face.  Patience patience patience.  Satisfied with the image below I put them away and waited until morning.  All I had to do this morning was put the Hello song on my phone and start playing it.  She ran to put on her favorite new dress and gave me an encore performance.

No doubt I find the morning one a bit more pleasing for light and color.  However, that picture I took last night will still be the first time she did that and it was a moment worth documenting.  Embrace the light you have before the moment passes.  It might not come again, but then again if there is a next time be ready!

natural vs artificial light


colie james documentary family photographer denver

Colie is a storytelling documentary family photographer living the good life in Boulder, Colorado with her husband of fourteen years, James, and their daughter Chloe. She loves to tell the true stories of her clients, just as they are. While her love of photography started long before the birth of her daughter, it has taken on a life of its own as she strives to capture all of her own moments and now her clients. Colie is also the instructor of the photography workshops: The Art of Telling Stories and The Business of Telling Stories. Besides photography, she loves espresso, Thai food, any movie with Denzel Washington, and traveling.




  • kim zagarenski - I love all of your posts, always filled with great information! I am looking forward to your review on the Sigma 24 1.4. I just purchased it, and so far, I love it!!ReplyCancel