The direction of light is very important in determining the success of an image. Whether the subject is lit by flash, room light, or illuminated by the sun, if the angle is wrong, the photo will fall short. Front light falls squarely on the subject. This direction of light is very flat. Shadows fall directly behind the subject creating dark and awkward voids. Backlight is known to produce silhouettes which limits the ability to capture detail. Sidelight hits the subject at a ninety degree angle. The result is an image with strong highlights and shadows.
Front light can be beneficial with certain subjects. Wildlife is a great example. Whenever I teach a wildlife workshop, I tell my participants to aim their shadow toward the animal. The more straight on it is, the more direct the front light. Backlight can be dramatic and create mood in an image. If a subject