5 Natural Light Options For Outdoor Photos

Whether you're taking photos with your cell phone or with a DSLR, one of the most important things to get right while taking photos is the lighting. This can literally make or break a photo and that's why I'm going to go over 5 options for getting the light right!


When shooting outside I typically only shoot during Golden Hour which is about 1-2 hours before sunset and 1-2 hours after sunrise. This is when you can get a very soft light so it won't be too harsh on your skin and produce shadows or distractions on your skin. Getting even lighting is so important to make sure your glowing and showing off your beautiful self.


That's why if you book a brand photoshoot with me you'll notice that we do all indoor pictures first and then work our way outside. A lot of my clients prefer beach pictures as well so since the beach is completely at sea level with hardly any shade, I always leave that for last.


Here I am going to show you how I work as a photographer so you can understand my methods to getting the lighting right.


Let's get into the 5 natural light options for your outdoor photos:


1. Open Shade


In order to avoid any sort of harsh lighting on someones skin you can utilize open shade. This is where both the photographer and the client are standing in the shade. By the photographer also being in the shade this avoids any sort of light bleeding into the lens. Some examples of open shade are tree coverage, being on the side of a building, or under an overhang. When you're utilizing open shade you can't tell where the sun is coming from in the picture.






2. Spotted Shade


Spotted shade is when you can see a little bit of light on the ground but both the client and photographer are still in shade. With spotted shade you can see that the light is coming from behind while not providing harsh shadows. Again, it's important for the photographer to stay in the shade as well to avoid any sort of light bleeding into the lens by hitting the camera.






3. Backlight


Backlight is when the light is coming from behind but is being diffused by an object such as a tree, brick wall, or archway. It's still letting enough light in to brighten up the photos but is not harsh on the client or bleeding into the lens.





4. The "Glow"


As you can imagine, shooting at golden hour also provides a beautiful golden look to photos. Therefore, if you take photos when the sun is really low and super golden you can get the "glow". This is when the hair and face are lite up from behind. To get this, the sun has to be directly behind the clients head so you can see the golden light on their hair.





5. Overcast


Overcast is actually a photographers favorite time to take photos because it naturally diffuses the light making the light everywhere super even. With overcast weather you don't have to worry about any harsh shadows or light on the clients skin because it's naturally diffusing everywhere. A great tip to finding out where the client should stand is to put out your hand and turn in a circle to see where light is even on your hand. Once you find the even light this is where the clients face should be.






Bonus - Natural Reflectors


Something that is important to know is that light bounces off everything surrounding the client. This means if the client is in a very green area or next to a brick wall, that color can reflect back up onto their skin. So if you are getting your photos taken, always be mindful of where you place yourself in order to get clean even lighting. Some great options would be on a white dock, sand, white sidewalk, or even next to a white wall. This will help create glowing bright skin and reduce the risk of under eye shadows. If you find yourself in a grassy area try to bring yourself to the edge so it's less likely to reflect back onto your skin.





In conclusion


Lighting is one of the most important things to get right when taking photos. The best place to start off is getting the time of day right by only taking outdoor photos during golden hour to avoid any sort of harsh light on your skin. Then you can start playing around with open shade, spotted shade, backlight, the "glow", overcast, and even using natural reflectors. So often we focus on getting the perfect background but in reality the most important thing is getting the light right.


I love using natural light for my brand photography so getting it right isn't just important for me but for my clients as well. It's my job to help make my clients look and feel their best during their photoshoots so they can represent their brands in the best way possible to attract their ideal clients.


If you're ready to showcase your brand by having your own photoshoot contact me by clicking the button below.



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