How to shoot dark & moody photos

For many years, I took bright and airy photos and I liked that style. But in the last couple of years, I’ve been gravitating more and more towards the dark and moody style. Which style do you prefer?

Bright and Airy vs Dark and Moody Photos

Photography is highly subjective. There is no right or wrong way to take or edit a photo, as we all have different tastes and different ways of expressing ourselves! I find it easier to create more interesting photos and to make certain elements pop, with the darker colors.

Photography Shooting Dark & Moody

Use only one light source

The first thing I do when I shoot dark & moody photos is to make sure that I only have one light source. I shoot most of my photos in my living room, where I have three windows, so I usually block out the light from two of the windows so that only one of my windows is serving as the light source.

Use a black reflector

I prefer to shoot exclusively with natural light and the only equipment I have is different reflector-/diffuser screens. For my dark and moody photos I usually tame the natural light with a black reflector to enhance the shadows even more. Place the reflector on the opposite side from where the light comes in (with you object in between).

Underexpose directly in camera

Sometimes I also underexpose my shots directly in the camera to make it easier to determine if I have the right balance between light and shadows.

Change the saturation in Photoshop

In the editing process afterward (either in Adobe Photoshop or Camera Raw/Lightroom when I shoot in RAW format), I usually lower the saturation a bit.

Add extra vignetting

I also frequently add extra vignetting when editing the photo, just to make certain elements in the photo pop even more. In Camera Raw you find the vignetting setting under “Effects”.

You can find more details on how I  edit my photos in Camera Raw/Lightroom in my free 5-days photography course.

In The Photography & Styling Masterclass you can learn more about shooting with natural light and how to use different reflectors and diffusers to tame the light.

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