Desert Maternity Session Part 1: Dark & Moody

This maternity session was a study in two locations, on two different days, with two different kinds of light (off camera light and natural light) used at both sessions. To see the “light, bright and airy” photos, click here:

You’ve probably noticed, if you’ve spent any time looking at other photography, that you’re drawn to a certain style of photo. Maybe you love that bright, sunny, sun flare look. Or that overbright, soft, dreamy look. Or maybe you love that dramatic, fresh off a magazine cover, balanced but striking light look. Here’s the fun part for me – I can and do DO IT ALL. I am not just a natural light photographer. I am not just an off camera light photographer. I am a photographer who loves light, knows how to use it in every instance to communicate a different part of the story, while still delivering images that are true to color and skin tone. No, you won’t see me editing images to make them look like a different color than what the world provides. I won’t be turning things more pink, or more brown, or putting what we, in the industry, call presets onto images to make them look a certain way. At the heart of my photography, no matter what kind of light I use, I want to start with the most realistic version of color possible, because trends and color tones come and go but you, you will be you through it all in my photography.

So I get asked a lot – do I edit photos? Of course I do! I definitely understand that the professional digital camera I use (Nikon D810 if you’re curious) picks up every last detail, from skin blemishes to wrinkles. So I always try to make you look like the best version of yourself. I also edit with light and dark tones, bringing out bright and toning down dark, to really communicate the lighting in the more dramatic images. And I also do saturate color sometimes, but in a way that, to me, represents what I saw with my eye (which the camera, out of the camera, does not always communicate).

All the images you see below were taken using my off camera lighting, which means I carry the light (I am currently using Profoto Lights) on a light stand with a soft box to the location and use it to make sure the subject is balanced with the background light. This allows you to see facial expressions and details, light in the eyes of the subject, but also allows for shaping with light to make things look, well, really cool.

Using off camera lighting also provides endless variety. I use off camera light for a very natural and balanced look, which you will see some of below, and I also use it to create a very dramatic, crazy cool look. And the only difference? The power of the light and the settings in the camera. But the key is that I understand how and when to do both, after years of study and practice!

Which do you like better?


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