Photography by Kathleen Hayes

The Assignment

When Kodak introduced its ‘Brownie’ camera range to bring photography to the masses, the company encouraged photographers to shoot with the sun behind them or over their shoulder.  This was to ensure the early cameras and film could record the detail of the subject using the light falling onto it, even though this lighting arrangement created very ‘flat’ and featureless photographs. 

Unfortunately, even with the passage of more than a hundred years and the improvement in lenses, film, and in digital cameras, many photographers still shoot with this advice in mind. Photographs can often take on more drama, and the subject given greater form, when the light source is behind the subject or included within the frame of the image.

The challenge, then, is to take three photographs (of different subjects) with

  1. the light behind the subject
  2. to one side of the subject, and
  3. with the light source included within the image composition. 

If you want to see examples of this style of lighting, search for contre-jour photography on Google.  Don’t fall in to the trap of shooting silhouettes, the trick is to keep a little detail even in the darkest shadow areas.