Lighting can make the difference between a so-so photo and a stunning image.

It is one of the most intimidating technical categories of photography because it is out of our control, and we don’t always have control of our locations either. Being able to work with light, understand it, and use it to our advantage is critical.

Here are seven basic tips to getting images with stronger light.

1. Learn the different types of light

There are many types of lighting, knowing what they are will give you a great start in spotting them and using them! Naming just a few: soft, hard, directional, spot, diffuse, flat, silhouette, golden hour, twilight, rim, artificial, but there are many, many more!

beautiful child photography by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

2. Be more observant

The most important part about discovering light is to increase your awareness of it. Look around; study the light as it changes from person, place, time, and angle! Look where the source is, the angle of the subject, note the position, the time of day. Be looking for it! Watch how highlights and shadows change.

detail kid photos by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

3. Shoot in different rooms!

I know that the light in my bedroom is warmer than the light in my office. I know what times of day the sun is most bright in each room. Try shooting in different places and watch what happens.

black and white lifestyle pictures by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

4. Shoot at different times of the day!

Some of my most favorite images are from sunrise. You won’t find me up at that hour often, but the light is so pretty. Try taking photos during different times of the day, note where the shade is on which side of your house, or in your neighborhood. Check your images and try again the next day!

colorful photography by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

5. Don’t run from the sun!

Flat light is flattering and easier to shoot in, but if you fear the sun you won’t push past it. Noon light is difficult to work with, but if you practice you will find ways to befriend it. Try backing up from your subject. Try shooting your subject from the side, or from behind so you don’t have to see the harsher sun on their face.

black and white dramatic light photographs by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

6. Move your subject around!

Move your subject in a 360! Look for the way the mood of the light changes.

family pics by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

7. Stop referring to it as good light or bad light.

You can shoot stellar images at any time of day. Learn the characteristics and know how to work them to your advantage. Embrace the shadows! Push the boundaries of your comfort zone.

inspiring pictures by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography