I love working with natural light for my portrait photography. Photography is all about the light and learning how to see it. You have to be able to determine the intensity, color, and direction of the light to position the subject and know which camera settings to use. I love working with natural light because you can gain a better depth of field. With flash, pictures can come out flat, and natural light allows you to capture more emotion in the portrait. If you are using natural light and want the same effect of flash, you can use reflectors which are easy to carry and transport.
Which brings me to my next reason for loving natural light photography. No equipment which is great when working with children & families. It makes it easier to be on the go when you have less to carry along with you, not to mention when you are taking portraits of toddlers and children there is less that can get knocked over! It’s a simple approach to portrait photography that gets significant results. Children blink more with the flash as well so using natural light makes them more comfortable, and it becomes easier to capture their beautiful moments without having to tell them to open their eyes!
Working with intense direct light can intensify the contrast between light and shadows and can be very unflattering. Working with diffused light is less intense which lowers contrast, and the light is more flattering when less intense.
Shade can be a great diffuser – use a porch cover, awning or shade of tree cover just make sure your subject is evenly covered. Cloud cover makes a great natural light diffuser as well. If indoors try moving your subject away from the window.
Knowing and understanding where the light is coming from is essential as well. I purposely chose my studio based on this aspect. The natural light at Mary Beth’s Photography faces north to south which is the best light. When using east to west light, you really have to use diffusing techniques to get the same effect that north to south approach provides naturally.
When your subject is facing directly into the light make sure the intensity of the light isn’t so high to cause them to squint and create shadows around their eyes. If the light is behind them, it can also cause shadows and make their face look dark in the photo. If indoors using window light as your light source do not have them super close the window as this provides harsh light, yet position them, so the window is on one side of them or have them angled at a diagonal towards the window. This will let the light diffuse beautifully across their face. Learning to see the light takes time and as you learn it, you will learn how to position your subject better.