Natural light vs flash – which is better?

Young african woman smiling at sunset
(Image credit: Ridofranz / Getty Images)

Lighting is key in all areas of photography, but for portraiture you have to approach it with extra sensitivity. Light needs to flatter the subject more than in any other genre and it's usually very noticeable if the highlights and shadows are misplaced, or if the intensity and color balance of the light is incorrect. But is natural light better than artificial light for portrait photography? 

As you'd expect, there's never a clear cut answer. While the best flashgun or strobe might work brilliantly for one portrait photographer, of course what lighting gear you use – if any – depends on the environment, as well as the look you want to achieve.

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Digital Photographer

Digital Photographer is the ultimate monthly photography magazine for enthusiasts and pros in today’s digital marketplace.

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