You've probably heard the phrase "light and airy" tossed around in photography communities. It's a favorite style among wedding photographers especially, but what does it mean? Light and airy photos are bright, but not overexposed. They often feature pastels and light-colored clothing, and if you look at the histogram, much of the information in the scene will be toward the right side. Light and airy is both an aesthetic and a mood; each side of that equation plays into the other.
Shooting Light & Airy Photos
If you want to make light and airy photos, editing is only half the battle. To achieve the light and airy look, you've got to give yourself a solid foundation in the images you shoot. There are guidelines you can follow when planning the shoot or choosing your shots at an event to make sure you've got the best base to use your Mastin Labs presets to get the look.
As with any photography, the starting point is light. For the light and airy look, you're looking for soft light without harsh shadows. If you're working outdoors, using backlighting or open shade are excellent ways to approach that. If you're indoors, use a large light source and fill in shadows.
Keep it simple! Minimize distractions and keep the words "light and airy" in the back of your mind as you set up and frame your shots. Anything in the scene that could detract from your subject should be excluded from the scene. Natural, outdoor settings can be great. If you're working in a studio, choose a light, simple backdrop and props. If you're shooting on location indoors, consider the tonality of what's around you when planning shots and how you can use the lighting in the area.
As with the light and location, the wardrobe should match the "light and airy" feeling. As with the location, keep wardrobe simple and avoid distracting patterns. Neutrals, peaches and pastels, and white are all excellent choices for wardrobe on a light and airy shoot. One reason light and airy is such a hit with wedding photographers is that traditional wedding color schemes are a great match, like a white wedding dress with a wispy, airy veil and a pastel-clad wedding party.
Light and airy can lean toward the "dreamy" side, so naturally, you'll want to choose a lens that's capable of a shallow depth of field. Choose a normal to telephoto lens—that means 50mm or longer. 50mm is about what the human eye perceives at once, so when you hear someone say a "normal" lens, they mean 50mm. Because of the physics involved in lens making, wide-angle lenses just can't achieve the level of out-of-focus blur that longer lenses can. The faster your glass is, the better because you'll need to open that aperture wide to get the dreamiest blur.
We recommend post-processing with our preset pack, Fuji Original.
400H Neutral and 400H Blue
Fuji 400H is the light and airy film and preset. 400H gives you all the pastels you crave, with its low saturation, minty greens, and cyan undertones. It's worth mentioning that 400H is one of the most versatile presets to best complement a variety of skin tones.
400H Neutral emulates Fuji 400H directly, while the 400H Blue preset treats colors and tones the same as 400H Neutral except for greens. 400H Blue tames greens when they get out of hand, knocking them back a couple of notches. If you apply the two presets to an image without any greens, you wouldn't see a difference.
Fuji 160NS is green-biased and has more contrast and saturation than 400H. Compared to 400H, pink and cyan tones are more emphasized. Skin tones take on a peachier tinge. 160NS can give your light and airy look just a little more pop.
Fuji 800Z is a film that's rarely spotted in the wild these days, but thanks to Kirk's scavenger hunting skills, he was able to track down enough properly-stored rolls to make this preset for you so that 800Z can live on, digitally.
800Z is the most vivid of the film presets in the Fuji Original pack and has the highest contrast. 800Z is pink-toned, and when you apply it to your photos, you'll see an increased emphasis on pinks in mid-tones and highlights.
Now you've got the tools and knowledge to make great light and airy photos, so get out there and shoot! And we'd love it if you joined our private Facebook community to show off the work you create!
Did you like this guide? Check out our guide How to Edit Vibrant & Airy.