Light vs Background | Photog Friday

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The big debate-light vs. background! Whether you are a professional or amateur photographer, you have an opinion of which is more important light or a background.

I always watch when people are taking pictures on their cell phones. (I just can’t help myself!) And every so often, I would hear, “move over, I don’t like that background” or “there is something behind you, move over this way.” Time after time, I have watched and heard people focus on the background of a photograph. Is a good background, really that important?

My answer would be yes and no. The composition of a photograph is very important. The placement of people, the focal points, the foreground, all come together to make a well-composed photograph. And it is true that you do need to pay attention to the background (you don’t want things growing out of people’s heads!). But I would argue that light is more important than a “pretty” background. Since I am a natural light photographer, I prefer to use the sun as a light source as much as possible. I personally prefer not to use flashes or addition lighting gear unless necessary. And I always start my shoots with finding good, even light and then a possible background. Good light makes all the difference!


I photographed our family on Easter. During Covid-19, we haven’t been dressed up that much!  Most people when photographing their family would immediately look for a “pretty” background for them to stand in front of or a shady spot. I know to always look for the light first. We could have stood in front of blooming bush, or our front porch, but there wasn’t great light there. I choose to put light before background.


Someone’s front yard in Newport News, is obviously not the best location for a photo shoot, but as a photographer you have to be flexible and resourceful no matter the location. I always find the light first, and then worry about a background.  The light makes these photos work, not the background.

Is it a big debate between light vs. background? In my opinion, light is always more important than a background.

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    Diana Gordon Photography

    Diana Gordon Photography is a premier family photographer serving Hampton Roads, Virginia and beyond with their bright and elegant style.