Hi, I'm Emely a family portrait photographer based out of Central Florida. It's currently Spring 2020 and most of us have pretty much been quarantined home with our families for the past 6 weeks. You have probably gone out into your yard and taken pictures of your kids or family members. Have you ever taken a photo that looks like this?
It's your kid, you love them! You love their little squint but you know it's not really the best photo of them. That's quite okay because it's okay to have lots of snapshots that we take day in and day out. Lots of pictures of our day to day life and they don't all need to be prize winning. You just want to capture those little moments in time and you did!
However sometimes you may want a picture that's just a little better. I'm gonna share some natural lighting tips to help you find the best light for your pictures!
So how exactly do you go from this picture to that one? Hint, the answer is not necessarily the camera or phone you are using. Even though I have upgraded my camera from those early days these were actually both taken with the same entry level camera. The answer is actually lighting! In my opinion the number one thing that will make your pictures better. The camera doesn't matter as much as it does to have a little background knowledge on optimal light. There are certainly several years of growth and education from one to the other but I hope to share a few tips with you that can help you today!
Looking at technicalities, what kind of things stand out to you in that first picture? If you were to say squinty eyes and harsh shadows you would be right! These are all things caused by harsh mid day sun. When you have the sun right in your face you are automatically squinting and it's not our best look. When the sun is highest in the sky that can sometimes be the most challenging time to get great outdoor photos.
When I schedule outdoor portrait sessions you will notice it is usually during the last couple of hours before sunset. This is some of the most beautiful light of the day. The same holds true for those sunrise hours. The sun is low and provides a beautiful glow. Whenever possible take your pictures during this time!
Having the setting sun behind your subject will give you a beautiful backlit glow. You may need to move either the subject or your position around a little to combat sun flare or get the flares in the spots where they look appealing.
However, I understand it is not always possible to only take pictures when the sun is low in the sky. In these instances you are going to want to look around for a shaded area if possible. You want to find an area with even light so that you don't have shadows on parts of the face.
There may be times when you don't have a choice but to take that picture right in the sun. In those cases you will want to try to have the sun behind the person you are taking a picture of as much as possible. That can be tough mid day. If you have some extra hands you can have someone hold a light reflector for you and try to diffuse some of that light. If you are using a DSLR you can use a speedlite. In the case of using a speedlite it would no longer be relying on the natural ambient light but some people really like the look of flash. You can also embrace it and try to make it as fun as possible use some fun sunglasses and a cute outfit. Play with the shadows and get them just where you want them!
Maybe the day is cloudy, I actually love cloudy days! You won't have to worry about any crazy shadows, squinty eyes, or heat in that case. While you won't have the glow of the sunset in this case it can still make for some lovely images. Taking pictures in natural light will be a reflection of your environment and the current conditions and therefore can always be a different scenario! That for me really makes it fun!
I'd love to see what you come up with! Feel free to follow me on Instagram and tag me in your creations!
This post contains affiliate links to product suggestions. I may receive a small commission from your purchase of any product linked at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!