Window light photography: 6 striking ways to light portraits

Window light photography: 6 striking ways to light portraits

You don’t need a home photo studio to take great portrait pictures. You can get beautiful portrait shots using natural light from a window. In this window light photography tutorial we’ll show you six ways to get striking – and very different – results with your subject.

Window light photography: 6 striking ways to light portraits

The light levels from a window are lower, so you may need to bump up the ISO or use a tripod.

The principles are much the same as those for studio photography – it’s all about the direction of the light and its ‘quality’, or how soft it is as it falls on your subject’s face.

We set ourselves a challenge. Could we find six ways to shoot a portrait of our model, Jess, using nothing more than windows?

SEE MORE: Photography lighting – how to take control of everything from natural light to built-in flash

6 ways to shoot portraits using window light: 1-2

Window light photography: 6 striking ways to light portraits

01 Window frames
If you’ve got a big, spectacular window like this one, use it! There’s enough room for Jess to stand on the sill and hold the shutters either side. We’ve moved a long way back and used a longer focal length to keep the camera level and prevent converging verticals.

SEE MORE: Candid portrait photography – how to use a macro lens to draw out character

6 ways to shoot portraits using window light: bold backlighting

02 Bold backlighting
You can move your subject to change the direction of the light. We’ve placed Jess with her back to the window and used our reflector to throw light back into her face. Use spot metering mode to set the exposure for your subject’s face.

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