“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it.”
Why are you passionate about this topic?
I started to really see shadows before I saw light. Looking to the shadows helped me find my voice. It helped me explore and better see and understand the light.
“Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.”
– Ruth E. Renkel
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
I was using light in all of the typical, well exposed ways that you are taught in the beginning. But something was lacking in my work. I felt like it fell flat more often than not. I didn’t feel anything that transcended my images, there was very little emotion of feeling besides the obvious. Then I hit some bumps in the road; some hard times for my family and for my health. I kept trying to put on a strong face that everything was fine, but I felt anything but fine. I started to let those feelings trickle out in my photography, gravitating towards the shadows or where the light and shadows met in a hard contrast because that’s what I felt inside. It was so emotionally cathartic , I saw my work change dramatically.
As the road smoothed out I found a way to work with those shadows I loved so much in a way that did not feel weighted with sadness and uncertainty. There can be joy and surprises and calm in the shadows.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
- Start by noticing the obvious shadows. Shadows cast by the human shape, shadows on the wall through the blinds, the shadows cast on buildings from the trees. Notice these and play with how to work them into your story.
- Use shadows as leading lines to draw the eye into your photo.
- Strategically place shadows (and light) to draw emphasis to a certain area.
- When you see the kind of light you are drawn to, take time to notice the shadows. There cannot be light without some kind of darkness or shadow, it’s there. Take note of how the light and the shadows play with each other. What are the shadows doing that makes the light so great. Start to appreciate those properties.
- Dappled light are some of my favorite shadows to incorporate into my photos. I feel like they create their own art within my own.
- Deep shadows make for beautiful pockets of light. Sometimes it’s not always obvious, sometimes it’s subtle so look close, even when there is just the littlest light available.
What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
I think the biggest challenge was to realize that shadows and darkness are not always ominous or sad. There are so many emotions, so many stories that can be told with shadows. Take the time to explore and reflect
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Kelly Jacobi is a natural light photographer based in Wausau, Wisconsin. Together with her husband and three wild boys, they love exploring and finding their own adventures no matter how big or small. She believes beauty lies in the simple things of life. She is passionate about where life and art meet; documenting life as it is and at the same time creating beautiful art in the unexpected.