Natural light in portrait photography

Using natural light in photography

During a (rare) lovely sunny day in London I took photos of my beautiful colleague Laura Munoz-Lapuente. I was going for a modern business look with that natural, relaxed feel. To do this I used the benefits of natural light which include; softening of the environment, highlighted facial expressions and use of the outdoor features – perfect for my goal.

Depending on the situation required natural light is usually the best solution for photography. No artificial light will paint the picture more precisely. Portrait photography aims to show a very personal picture and natural resources are the most accurate choice.

Experiment with your position against the sun and take advantage of what the reflected light gives you. Observe how sunlight bounces from buildings and other surfaces and how it changes your model. As reflected light can make your subject look soft and natural, check out how to contrast between shadow and light.

Laura Munoz-Lapuente portrait by Ula Burgiel

Working on a portrait

Extracting him or her from the background is crucial, it’s all about giving priority. Lenses with larger apertures give you that helpful hand in those situations. Not only will you get an interesting depth of field but also the light will be shown in an exceptional way. Try to get the background connected to what the person does or is interested in. In this case, Laura’s interest in working on interior designs have her working in an office in London. That said, it is important to remember that background should never outweigh the foreground.

Make your model smile 🙂

Last but not the least, make your model feel comfortable and encourage them to smile. Not a lot of people like it when someone is pointing camera at them for a long periods of time so even though you’re busy taking photographs try to entertain them; tell a joke or do anything you can think of (within reason) that will make them relaxed and happier. You’ll see the difference straight away.
Laura Munoz-Lapuente portrait by Ula Burgiel

Laura Munoz-Lapuente portrait by Ula Burgiel

In this shot you get the idea of the central perspective with a stunning depth of field.


Laura Munoz-Lapuente portrait by Ula Burgiel

Even in windy conditions and with many attempts the natural movement I was aming for was captured.


My tips for making best use of natural light is to; experiment with different positions against the sun, take advantage of how the sunlight reflects from nearest surfaces, play with the background so it adds some kind of story to your photographs and try to make your model feel relaxed. Most importantly, have fun with it.

Let me know your thoughts.

Have you got a similar experience to share or a tip to add – feel free to comment below. I’m curious about your thoughts.

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