The Benefits Of Natural Light Photography
Most photographers specialise in either natural light or studio light photography. I chose natural light, because I love it.
In a nutshell, the advantages of natural light are:
- Very flattering for skin tones
- Allows photography in your natural home environment
- Quick and easy to set up in your home
- Allows me total flexibility with viewpoints
- Less overwhelming for babies and children
My style of photography
I specialise in taking natural portraits that aren’t staged. It wouldn’t make sense to have a home portrait session and set up studio lighting, turning your home into a studio!
My photographs are soft and gentle. Studio lighting doesn’t deliver the same effect, no matter how it’s diffused or modified. In my opinion, it can’t match the softness of natural light.
Using natural light, I can move around your home finding the best angles for your home and your family. Studio lighting would restrict us to setting up certain spots with studio lighting. Not being tied to studio lighting means I can make the most of your home and the space available.
I experienced this first-hand when I tested having a studio style session at home. The photographer was limited to a few places in the home, where there was enough space for the lights and reflectors. He wanted to take a photograph of us reading a book in bed, but it wasn’t possible with the angles he could get his tripod into. With natural light, I can take photographs anywhere that looks promising.
No set-up time
Families often ask how long it’ll take me to get setup. With natural light, all I have to do is take my camera out of the bag! There’s no setup time, and no need for lots of space for light stands. If we need to move to another room, or your child needs a change of scene, I can come straight with you. There’s no need to dismantle lighting equipment and set it up again.
Here’s a simple studio lighting set-up, so you can see what’s involved:
Unpredictability of newborns and young children
Babies and children don’t make the most static of subjects! They’re more than likely to turn their heads, to find their attention wandering to somewhere else around the room. Using natural light means I can move with your children, making tiny adjustments quickly to my position to get the best photographs. It also means I can adapt to their moods quickly and easily. If I need to get down low to play Peepo, for example, I can do that straight away. With studio lights, I’d have to stop and adjust the angle of studio lights before moving.
Being sensitive to newborns and young children
I find natural light is much more reassuring for photographing babies and young children. It’s much easier to get used to a new person with a camera rather than the extra impact of lots of kit being set up. Young children quickly relax once they’ve got used to me being around with just my camera. This is quite a different experience than if I set up lighting stands and there are flashes going off.
I learnt from personal experience how overwhelming a studio setup can be for small children. I book regular portrait sessions done with my own daughter to test other photographer’s approaches. It also reminds me what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera. I took my six month daughter to a studio, and she sat like a rabbit in the headlights. The photographs were so unlike her – they didn’t capture her personality at all, because she was overwhelmed.
Personally, I find that natural light gives me a much better opportunity to capture children’s personalities than with studio lights. This can be as true for the parents too!
On a technical side, lots of experiments have been done as to the safety of using flash lights with newborns. There’s nothing to show that it’s not safe – but for me, it doesn’t sit right. They’ve only just been born, and having bright lights flashing in their face doesn’t feel sensitive.
Technical capability of professional cameras and lenses
The incredible capability of professional camera equipment means that I can take beautiful photographs in even the lowest of light conditions.
I don’t even use flash in dark churches when I’m photographing christenings. It’s just not necessary with today’s kit.
Using natural light despite the higher costs
Sometimes clients ask if I don’t use studio lighting as a cost-saving exercise. The answer couldn’t be further from the truth!
Investing in lenses that are fast enough to deliver stunning portraits with natural light is seriously expensive. Each lens costs at least £1,000, and often much more.
It would be far cheaper to have basic lenses and use studio lighting instead. That’s not where my heart is, though. And in fact, I do have studio lights. I simply choose not to use them at all, because natural light gives me exactly the effect I want from my photographs.
Requests to bring studio lights
Despite the above, some families just don’t feel comfortable that their home will be bright enough without studio lights. If it reassures you, I’m happy to bring studio lights with me.
I can guarantee you that I won’t use them though!
Have a look through my website – each and every photograph is taken only with natural light.
Your home won’t be any different. No matter your concerns about the lighting available, I can take stunning photographs in your home. All I need is a window!
Best time of day for children
Newborns and young children all tend to be at their best in the mornings – strange but true! It also happens to be when the light is best here in the UK. It’s soft and gentle in the mornings, and also brighter.
Midday light tends to be harsh and too bright, and the afternoon sun can be too low.
Morning light is ideal for portraits in the UK, and that’s when babies are at their jolliest. It’s a win-win situation for using natural light!