Getting creative with lens flare and not being a perfect photographer

Getting creative with lens flare and why sometimes we shouldn’t focus on being a perfect photographer

I was working on an album design today and going through a few of the toasts shots got me thinking about creating the “perfect” image. I know that when we are starting out in photography we try to learn all of the technical aspects. We learn about composition, lighting and all of the other things that can make a great image. We strive to get that perfect light, however when we do get that image with textbook perfect light it still can lack something. I am a big believer in constantly educating yourself in photography. Even thought I received a degree in photography I constantly continue to learn more about how to improve my art and think its a lifelong journey. But once you learn all of the different rules of photography you have to remember to unlearn these sometimes. To really create that “perfect” image you have to listen to your heart and capture something that really shows what that moment was all about. That might mean sometimes to forget about the perfect focus, or to forget about the perfect lighting. Sometimes we have to let ourselves be free and experiment. Slow down your shutter speed to 1 second and let everything blue or have some lens flare that is just shooting across your image. Sometimes it won’t work at all but when it does work it can be amazing.

Here is an image that I shot during one of the toasts. At this reception I had 2 lights illuminating the front table. There was one light to the right of the table (in this shot it was right behind the groomsmen’s head). The 2nd light was behind me to my right about 20 degrees and on the other side of the room bouncing off the ceiling. That light bouncing created the main light and then the light in the back was just a edge light to create some definition and separation in the image. For many of the images it was a crisp clean image that worked well.

wedding reception photography lighting

But the image taken right after that could have been one of those happy accidents (for me I do love lens flare so always try and include some in shots throughout the day). I only moved slightly but with that move the light in the back is now in the shot and creates a large lens flare. To me this really adds a lot to the image though, it gives you more of a real feeling to the shot. Life isn’t always perfect, sometimes its raw and gritty and our images need to show some of the imperfections of life to really grab our viewers attention.

So the next time you are out shooting remember to keep experimenting! We all need to have that youthful passion no matter if we have been doing photography for 2 months or 20 years, that fire and passion will keep us creating and trying new things out. Also remember that sometimes what you think may be a mistake when shooting could turn into an awesome image or also can be a great learning experience. Would love to hear your comments, feel free to leave a note below.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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  1. Absolutely true, Mark. In life… more so in a photographer’s life.. we wait for these accidents to happen. 🙂
    Your image does catch every viewer’s attention.

  2. I want to thank you for this blog! I’m a amateur photographer and I love to experiment, so this blog was really helpful! Nevertheless I love al your blogs, so keep up the good work!!

    Kind regards,

    Esra Schilders

    The Netherlands

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