Photography is all in the lighting, and there are so many techniques to choose from. Find out what backlighting in photography is, and how to master it here!

When you begin learning about photography and getting stuck in, you soon discover that light is king. After all, what we see is just light reflecting off of surfaces. The emphasis on good lighting crops up pretty soon in any photography class, as it dictates how you use your camera and compose your image.

Light can be manipulated, particularly when it is artificial. Shooting in natural light is another beast altogether, with its own set of techniques to be mastered. But one lighting technique that works with both artificial and natural light is backlighting.

What Is Backlighting in Photography?

I am sure that you’ve figured out – at least partially – what backlighting is from the name alone. Backlighting in photography is when the light source is to the rear of the shot, behind the subject. There are different techniques within backlighting that can alter the result you get in your final image. Whether the light source is in shot or not will decide how much softness your photograph has, or how accentuated the shadows are.

Backlighting helps to create depth within a shot. It enables the separation of your subject (the foreground) from the background. This then makes, what is in effect a 2D image, appear more 3 dimensional.

By positioning the light source in different spots, as well as playing with the type of light source, you can achieve different effects. A popular effect is rim lighting, sometimes known as halo lighting. This is when the light, often the sun, is placed directly behind the subject, creating an ethereal glow around the edges. You’ll most likely see this technique used in dusky, dreamy wedding photos.

How to Master Natural Backlighting

We love a good online learning resource. This doesn’t have to be a scholarly article or some university portal. Sites like Skillshare and YouTube are fantastic sources of information and knowledge.

Julia Trotti, an Australian portrait photographer, uses her channel to share a wealth of knowledge, tutorials, a peek behind the scenes of photo shoots and more. Take a look at her video explaining how to achieve beautiful natural backlighting in portrait photography.

Now you’ve got the know-how for shooting gorgeous backlit photographs, why not share them with the world?

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