I love using open shade to photograph my kids but what is it exactly?

Open shade is when your subject is standing in the shade with the sunlight above them.

The magic of open shade is that it creates a beautiful even light across your subject’s face and eyes that sparkle with catchlights.

How to find open shade.

You can find open shade at the edge of a forested area or a tree, near a doorway or awning, in front of a tall building or even right by your open garage.

When hunting for open shade, it can be easiest to look down. You know the line you see on the ground dividing the light and shadows? In the shadow part of that line is where the open shade is!

How to use open shade.

With open shade, you want your subject to look out of the shade and towards the open sky. Your subject should be illuminated by light but not actually in the light.

See where I’ve positioned my dog and daughter? Notice how they are on the edge of the shade?

How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz

Look at the images I got in this position:

How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz
How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz

Here my daughter is facing the open sky right on the edge of grandma’s balcony. See below close to where I placed her:

How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz
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How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz

How to get side light with open shade.

We all love side light but is it possible to get in open shade? Yes, yes it is.

I love being in open shade and positioning my subject in a way that brings shadows on one side. Rotate your subject until you see a soft shadow start to fall across their face. If needed, move your subject closer to a wall or tree to increase the shadow on their face.

In the image below, on the right side of my son is a high wall which is blocking the sun and creating some shade. On the left side of my son is the wall of my house and it’s reflecting some sunlight on him. He has his face turned to me , but with the open sky above us and you can see that sparkle in his eyes!

How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz

Keep your eye out for dappled light and blown out areas in the background though as these are not ideal. Like always, meter for the brightest part of the skin to accentuate the shadows.

How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz
How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz
How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz
How to find and use open shade for your photos by Gia Querioz