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Capture the Glow with These Five Tips for Bright Photos

Family on the beach

Bright, crisp photos capture a beautiful aesthetic: hopeful, clean, serene. Bright and sharp photography is definitely a skill set you’ll want to have in your toolbox. But whether you’re shooting a gorgeous white interior or documenting your family in a bright outdoor scene (think ski slope or a sandy beach), light can be challenging to photograph. Try these five tips for mastering bright photos.

1. Use natural light whenever possible.

Natural light

The more natural light you can let into your photo, the better. (And the more you have in your shot, the less work your camera must do!) Plus, avoiding flash is the quickest route to a natural-looking photo. So open the curtains and let in the sunshine!

2. Pay close attention to the time of day.

How does the sunlight travel across your setting? In an east-facing room, the morning light might produce the brightest, most beautiful results. The reverse is true for a room that lets in the afternoon sun.

When shooting outdoors, never forget the power of golden hour photography—that magical time of day just after sunrise and just before sunset when light is naturally diffused by the horizon.

3. Diffuse light for a softer feel in bright photos.

Diffused Light

Diffused light is softer and spread out and gives your subjects a glow. An overcast day is Mother Nature’s built-in diffuser and one you can use to your advantage even if you’re shooting indoors. Again, open the window shades!

But even if the sun is shining bright, not all is lost. You can experiment with professional equipment such as on-camera flash diffusers, softboxes and umbrellas—or you can get started with the DIY approach. Play with using frost paper, paper lanterns, and more to soften and scatter your light source. (Just be mindful of putting any diffusing tool too close to your light source. A fire will ruin any photograph.)

4. Adjust the ISO setting on your DSLR.

Along with shutter speed and aperture, your DSLR camera’s ISO setting controls the amount of light your camera’s lens allows into an image. The lower the ISO, the higher-quality image your camera will produce, but with higher ISO settings, you can shoot in darker situations (gathering more grain along the way). Play with your ISO settings. For the brightest possible photographs, you’ll want to shoot at the lowest ISO possible.

5. Edit your way to a bright photo.

The bright photos you see on Instagram start with a good natural light source, but they have a little bit of help during photo editing, too. You can tinker with multiple settings until you find your perfect aesthetic. Here a few settings to start playing with:

  • Bump up the exposure one or two settings to increase brightness.
  • Adjust the contrast to make whites brighter.
  • Correct the white balance based on the available light source.
  • Experiment with increasing and decreasing saturation to determine which color tone you prefer.

Try these tips for editing your photos with a professional touch.

Once you’ve mastered bright and airy photography, your photos will have a cohesive look—making it easy to curate a collection for use in your next custom photo book or calendar. The bright and airy look is perfectly complemented by Motif’s streamlined, elegant themes and layouts. 

Bring your photo memories to life with Motif.

Experience the joy of creating personalized photo projects with Motif. Our photo book app seamlessly works with Apple Photos in macOS and iOS, doing the heavy-lifting while leaving the creative freedom to you.