Tips for using Natural Light in Studio Portraits

Over the holidays, I had a concept I wanted to photograph. A white scene, with white fairy lights, and subjects in white clothing. I started by trying to blast the set with even studio light, and found that I lost my fairy lights. I rolled back to natural light and found I was able to preserve the nuances of the different shades of white and keep the glow of the fairy lights in the background.

Tip 1: Ensure the set and the subject are not in direct sunlight. I have large windows in my office, and placed the setup to the side so that it was indirectly light. Having direct light hit the set or the subject would have created harsh contrast and I would have lost the soft ethereal mood I was trying to achieve.

White portrait using natural light

Tip 2: Increase your ISO. Even though I shoot on a tripod, I increased the ISO to ensure enough light was hitting the sensor and I had a bright image. I also needed extra shutter speed to stop the motion of the falling balloons

White portrait using natural light

Tip 3: Pay attention to how the shadows fall on the scene and the subject. Even though the shadows were soft, I still wanted variation in light on the face to add some dimension. That is why I decided to place the set at a perpendicular angle to the windows, rather than parallel to the windows.

White portrait using natural light

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