Natural light is everywhere, but it’s also a powerful (and free!) tool for photographers. It’s important to know how best to work with this light source because harnessing it properly can improve your photography without
the need to splash out on lighting kit.
As the light around you changes, be prepared to try shooting your subject from different angles. Take a step in either direction while you’re shooting to see if a subtle change in lens direction achieves better results. One of the most important things to consider if you are planning a shoot outdoors is the time of day. I usually advise against working in the middle of the day, because it is hard working with the bright direct sunlight and easy to overexpose your images.
Alistair’s top tips for working with natural light
As with any portraiture work, there are different techniques to try to help get
the results you want. First, keep the sun at around 45° to your model; this will
give the most flattering light and create some shadow and shape to the face. It
will also help to avoid them squinting, as the light is less direct. Shoot with a wide aperture of around f/2-2.8 to soften the background so it doesn’t draw any
attention away from your subject.
Choosing to shoot in natural light also alleviates the need to lug around any tripods or lighting stands. Simply take one lens or, even better, a camera with a fixed lens, such as the Fujifilm X100V.
Check out why we think that The Fujifilm X100V might be the most successful camera ever, be sure to find out How to use the beauty of backlighting in portrait photos, and The best lens for portraits in 2023: our pick of the best 85mm lenses right now.