Shooting with natural light is my favourite way to shoot. I love the feeling of being able to capture a moment that exists only for a short amount of time, on a certain day. Natural light gives you a full spectrum of moods over a whole day, through different seasons, and different types of weather. Especially when you’re shooting on location it’s good to have a sense of what light will be happening when, and what you can expect. The same location on different days with different light can look completely different. Which is great or can completely ruin your shoot, depending what you have in mind.
1. Shooting early in the morning will give you a cooler light than shooting at sunset. You have to be quick to capture this light, as once that suns gets over the horizon it quickly starts getting really bright. Looking up online to find out exactly what time the sun will be up is helpful, and plan more time before that than you think you’ll need.
2. Avoid shooting in the middle of the day when it’s sunny, as the light will be directly overhead and flattening out the scene. Having more directional light creates more interesting shadows, which gives your photos more depth. People also end up looking squinty at this time, which usually doesn’t photograph well.
3. If you have to shoot in middle of the day sun, and you can’t avoid it(at a wedding for example), try to get the sun behind your subject’s head. Having them keep their chin up slightly can avoid harsh shadows under their eyes as well. Or if at all possible, look for shade under trees or have them stand in the shadows and expose them properly. The rest of the scene may be slightly blown out which you can either frame it out or sometimes it works as a stylistic choice.
4. Backlighting from the sun creates really beautiful lighting. Even if the sun is still high overhead, positioning your subject with the sun behind them and exposing for their face can create a really lovely highlight around them.
5. Cloudy days can be some of the best to shoot portraits. The clouds work as a giant diffuser making everyone look really flawless and soft. It may not look inspiring to go out and shoot on a cloudy day, but I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot.
Hopefully, these tips get you excited to go and shoot with natural light, let me know if any of these tips worked for you.