Photographing in Natural Light

Utilizing natural light in your photography can be a quick and easy way to create portraits without having to fuss over strobes, light stands, and light modifiers. In this video, photographer Anita Sadowska takes us along for a swimwear shoot in an NYC location that features floor-to-ceiling windows, which allow for a generous amount of natural light to enter. 

For the first look, the model is lit by direct sunlight. This can be a tricky situation since most people are unable to open their eyes if the sun is in their line of sight. Anita’s model wasn’t bothered by this, and she was able to create some great images in direct sunlight. If you find yourself shooting in harsh sunlight, you may want to use a translucent reflector to soften the shadows on the model’s face. Rather than mount the reflector on a light stand, you may find it easier to have an assistant hold the reflector between the sun and the model to diffuse the hard light. If the model is sensitive to bright sunlight, utilizing the reflector will allow the model to open her eyes freely, and that will make it possible to capture a variety of expressions where the model looks comfortable.

It is important to note that you want to reduce the shadows from direct sunlight because you don’t have control over where the shadows are falling. If the shadows cause the model’s eyes to appear hollow and sunken, then the shadows may not be working in your favor. Conversely, if you were photographing in the studio and utilizing a beauty dish to create shadows that enhance the model’s cheekbones, then shadows would not be objectionable. When shooting outdoors with the sun directly overhead, the most expedient way to control the shadows may be to use the translucent reflector over the model’s head to eliminate virtually all shadows from the final image. Check the video for Anita’s approach to taking photographs in direct sunlight. 

John Ricard's picture

John Ricard is a NYC based portrait photographer. You can find more of Ricard’s work on his Instagram. accounts, and

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