I used to be terrified of shadows when I was taking pictures!
I remember I wanted the image to be as free of shadows as possible, because dealing with them when they were falling on my subject was a nightmare I wasn't ready to contend with.
But once you have got to grips with the basics of your camera, introducing shadows is an amazing way to make your images more engaging.
Here's four reasons why shadows can add impact to your photos, and why you should start to try to incorporate them today!
#1 - Shadows create depth and dimension
Simply put, shadows in an image help to give it DEPTH.
Remember that when we take an image, we flatten a three dimensional world and make it into a two dimensional image. The camera brings objects far and near together, and flattens them onto one plane. (That's why it's only AFTER you see the finished image you realise there is a telephone pole sticking out of your subjects head - your eyes can take on depth, but your camera can't in the same way - it brings foreground and background elements and puts them together)
So, shadows can help bring back a sense of depth in the image, which in turn makes the scene more more three dimensional, and therefore more "real".
#2 - Shadows can highlight your subject
When you have most of the image in shadow, with just the light on your subject, then you are can bring attention squarely to your subject, almost like you are framing your subject with shadow and light.
It can highlight your subject and make them the "star" of the frame, or you can use it to outline your subject and bring more interest to the frame.
#3- Shadows make your image look 'touchable"
When you include shadows on your subject, you generally help bring out texture - and including texture in your images helps include a sense of touch in your images. Again, this helps the image look more real and engaging.
(Of course there are times when you DON'T want to bring out texture, for example if you are were photographing a senior with bad acne, so highlighting texture might not always be a good thing 😄. I personally wouldn't thank you for highlighting my crow's feet either)
For most images, texture means that a viewer feels they can reach out and pick an item up - an amazing thing to be able to do!
#4 - It creates contrast to help make more engaging photos
Our eyes are naturally drawn to areas of contrast over areas of non-contrast.
Having both light and shadow in your image creates light contrast - where you have shadows meeting the light. Basically, making sure your image has contrast is a super simple way to create more engaging images :)
The best way to make sure you get images with great shadows is to learn how to use light effectively, and how to shoot in manual mode.
If you are not sure which settings you should be using when shooting in manual mode, then take a moment to download my FREE manual settings cheat sheet here. This way you can start to use manual mode and get those oh so yummy shadows in your images.