The Sweet Graces of Natural Light | Glamour & Boudoir Portraiture

Oh how I love natural light. It’s soft, warm, fickle and is never the same twice. On this day, it was a raining mass of dark clouds that gave this session a diffused and softer look. The day before this session it was all sun and no clouds as the rays beat into my windows. I never know what I’m going to get when I show up to my studio and that’s why I love natural light. It forces me to think outside the box, use what I have and figure out different ways to tie in the clothing, poses, the look of the woman in front of me and infuse all of it with whatever light I have around me.

My equipment for every session I do is 3 cameras (different lenses do different things and I don’t like taking the time to switch lenses so I bring 3) equipped with my favorite lenses: 50mm 1.8, 24-70mm 2.8 and the 70-200mm 2.8, one white board that I use as a reflector, one 2-sided reflector when I need a bit more power for those rainy days (gold/silver) and a fan. That’s it. I have various furniture in my studio and sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t. Everything I do in a session depends on the physical look of the woman, the clothes she brings and the light I have available to me. So every session is different because all 3 of those things change for every session. I have 3 walls that I work with in my studio and mostly I only use 2. One wall gives good side light for a more defined look. So to B’s left (above) there are huge windows letting in whatever light there is that day. To her right I have a reflector set up to balance the light. On really sunny days I use a big white board for a more diffused look. On rainy days or when I want a more powerful look I will use an actual reflector to give more defined light.

Other times I like to put my client in front of direct light from the window. This will give a very soft glow around her but will also make the light in front of her rather dark so I place a reflector right in front her. In the photo below I have her in front and a bit below one window. If I have her standing in between both windows (below), providing a light source to both sides of her and behind her, and a reflector in front of her I get this halo glow around her and that soft, diffused light in front of her, giving the photo a more ethereal look (over-expose a bit in-camera for that bright glow). This is one of my favorite light techniques because it’s so soft (and ladies can I get a “holy gorgeousness” for that bustier? You with me on that??) Sometimes I’ll place her directly below the window to let that soft, diffused light just fall right over her, again, giving an ethereal kind of look. My favorite. And I’m throwing in this one because I loooooved this photo. Just gobbled it up. I use actions/presets as I see fit. It’s funny how a lot of photographers ascribe to one rigid thought process when it comes to photography: I would NEVER use a preset; it’s so unnatural.  I ALWAYS use presets; it really ups my game.  I only shoot with natural light. I only shoot with studio lighting. Eesh….I do what I want, when I want. Sometimes a photo is so perfect right out of the camera I wouldn’t consider touching it. Sometimes a photo just begs to be played with and poked at. The rawness of the pose below coupled with the sweet tutu conjured the words “broken ballerina” to me. So I played with it till I got what I wanted. I think it turned out pretty good. This was a pose I saw when I went to a workshop recently and it just seemed to fit (I actually didn’t even realize I used it till I saw the photo the other photographer posted and realized they were exactly the same. 🙂 Funny how your brain sticks things in the back corner and then brings them back out when the time is right).

If you want a bit of a challenge I recommend trying natural light. It forces you to think before you shoot. But whatever you do, keep it simple. It’s so much easier. 😉

For more of my work feel free to visit my site.

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