Christening Photography Tips: How to Use Backlighting in Your Photos

In today’s post, we’re going to look at how you can make the best use of backlighting while photographing a christening. It’s a bit tricky to get a handle on, but with these simple tips, you’ll be taking powerful dramatic photos in no time at all!

The most important part of a great photograph is the light. You can have a powerful, moving composition, but if it doesn’t have good lighting it can be ruined. Most beginner photographers learn this very quickly, but they take it too far the opposite direction.

Instead of thinking about how they can use light to their advantage, they just make sure to flood every picture with light. This can be effective, but it can also lead to flat, boring pictures. When you’re shooting in a photojournalist style, it’s a good tactic, but that doesn’t mean you should use it for every image.

So what’s the alternative? There are a couple of ways to play with light to create more dramatic images, but one of the most effective methods is to use backlighting.

Now, you’re probably saying, “But wait! I was always told that backlighting just ruins photographs!” – and you’re partly right, it can ruin photographs. But like most photographic rules, it’s a rule that is made to be broken. Photographic rules are there to help guide you to better images, not to be ironclad and unbreakable.

Of course, you should only break the rules when you know exactly how to break the rules to create the effect you want. But that’s why we’re here to help!

What Exactly IS Backlighting?

Backlighting is a pretty simple concept. It’s more or less self-explanatory in the name: whenever the light behind your subject is brighter than the light falling on your subject, it can be said to be ‘backlit’.

This creates the effect of silhouetting your subject, which can hide some of the fine details but really showcases the outline of the subject.

When to Use Backlighting

So now that you know exactly what backlighting is, you might have a hard time deciding when it would be a useful technique to use in your photography. But the more you think about it, the more you’ll see how powerful it can be.

Most christening photographs (like other event photographs) are done in a photojournalistic style. In other words, they are all well-lit, clear images that are intended to document such an important event so that everyone can look back on it and refresh their memories of the special occasion.

But because a christening is such an important occasion, it is often filled with powerful emotions and symbols. Unfortunately, they can lose some of that power when they photographed in a photojournalistic style. This is when backlighting can be a really important tool for photographers.

For capturing the power of the more emotional aspects of a christening, it can be useful to start thinking about your photography as more artistic than photojournalism. Once you start thinking in this way, you’ll completely change the way you look at everything going on around you.

Now instead of looking at the fine details of your subject, you instead focus on their shapes and outlines which would make beautiful images when backlit. Backlighting highlights the silhouettes of objects, and can create very powerful images.

A backlit cross, the silhouette of the priest holding the baby about to be christened, or even the outline of the flower arrangements can be turned from important (though drab) images into striking, artistic and powerful images that will symbolize the entire christening ceremony.

When shooting backlit images, remember to disable your popup flash! Normally, your flash is what saves you from backlit images when you don’t have the chance to recompose your shots, but in this case, you want to ensure that it is disabled or else you’ll ruin the backlighting effect.

In some situations, it might be useful to get a partially backlit image, in which case you’ll want to check out your flash settings. Some cameras allow you to control the power of your flash, so instead of using it a full power you can get a partially backlit image by putting your flash to 1/4 or 1/3 of total output.

When to Avoid Backlighting

Of course, just because backlighting can be a useful tool doesn’t mean you should be using it all the time. It is something you should use sparingly when shooting a christening, because most of the time you’ll want clear images.

If you want to include the detail necessary to tell complex emotional stories, you’re usually better off avoiding backlighting. If you’re photographing people in the crowd, you’ll almost always want to avoid backlighting unless it’s a very special circumstance.

As you grow more and more accustomed to thinking about the multiple potential ways of photographing a scene, you’ll start to learn when it is a good idea to use backlighting and when it is a good idea to use full lighting. As in all things in photography, practice makes perfect!

If you’re looking for more personalized advice about how to tell powerful stories with your christening photography, or if you want to hire an experienced professional photographer who is already skilled at telling stories with images, please feel free to get in touch with me by email at or by telephone at 1-801-938-5513.

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