I'm so excited to share this Orange Circle portrait session with you! The goal for this session was to create a balanced combination of classic portraits and creative images in hard light.

Everyone knows that "golden hour" is the ideal time for portraits. It's soft, directional, and gives a beautiful golden glow that graces many a curated Pinterest board. But a lot of photographers have a tendency to fall back on that type of light and avoid shooting at other times of day when the light is harsher and more contrasty. Most people think of it as "bad" light, but the reality is that it can actually be really great if you know how to leverage its characteristics! That's what we wanted to do in this session.

High contrast Black and white portrait in Old Towne Orange.

Our first stop was in this little alleyway that is kind of an iconic spot for portraits. I loved the way the shadows were falling on the wall and decided to create something a little different. I lined up Alyna in between the shadows and had her look up, toward the light, to ensure that her face was well lit.

During my editing process, I had such a hard time deciding if I liked the black and white version or the color edit. I love them both for different reasons so ultimately I decided to keep both of them.

Creative urban portrait at Orange Circle.

I knew I wanted to create some classic-looking portraits too, so I kept an eye out for opportunities to create well-lit portraits despite the super bright environment! As we were walking, I noticed that the sunlight was hitting the ground around us and creating the perfect natural reflector. I posed Alyna so that her face would be evenly lit from the light reflecting on the ground, while also getting a nice rim light on her hair from the sun. By framing her in front of the tree, the light on her hair helps to separate her from the background and creates a really nice, dimensional portrait.

Personal portraits in Orange, CA by Belinda Philleo

I love the way black and white takes a great portrait and adds a little more drama!

Black and white portraits in Orange, CA
Urban portrait photography in Orange, CA

Toward the end of the session, we decided to experiment with some unique shots. I used a prism and my phone to create some reflections in the images.

Creative reflection portrait made with prisim in Old Towne Orange, CA
Creative reflection portrait of girl

At the end of the session, we circled back to the same alleyway where the session began. By now the light had changed and gave us an opportunity to create something completely different. I loved the idea of using the leading lines on the wall to draw the viewer's eye right to the subject! By getting down low I was able to create a unique perspective and put more visual emphasis on Alyna, which paired well with her powerful stance.

Urban portraits in Orange Circle in Orange, CA by Belinda Philleo

It was so much fun to get out and create some images that were a little out of my typical style and comfort zone! It gave me an opportunity to push my creative muscles and really enjoy the interesting variety that harsh midday light has to offer.

Thanks for checking out this Orange County portrait session! If you enjoyed this, be sure to follow along on my Instagram page to see my latest work and more!

Wanna book your own portrait session? Fill out my contact form and let's set up a time to chat about your vision!

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