Portrait photographs taken in natural light do not allow the photographer to manipulate the light setting. Instead, he/she needs to work with other factors to produce the desired light effect. Here are some tips for portrait photography in natural light.
Try to use the natural light to your best advantage. Firstly, decide the look you want for your portrait. Avoid your subject directly looking towards the light. A slight angle would light part of their face, leaving the other part shaded, giving a moody look. Play around with different angles and you will be surprised at the range of expressions you capture.
Points to keep in mind with window lighting are brightness of the light coming in, distance of the subject from the window, and angle of the subject’s face in relation to the light. Very bright lighting can produce harsh portraits. A thin curtain can be used to give a softer effect. If the subject is very close to the window, the contrast could be too much. Position your subject at just enough distance from the window that the light falls on their face to highlight it. The angle of the subject’s face in respect to the window light also can be changed according to which looks best. You could also try getting your subject to pose in the shadow of window shades or bars such that the shadow creates a sort of light-dark zebra effect on the subject’s face making for dramatic and stunning portraits.
If you are clicking portrait photos outdoors, make sure you select a suitable location for the kind of portrait you want. It could be an idyllic scenery like a riverside, lake, hillside or even a garden, or it could be a more crowded city backdrop. Whatever the setting, make sure you select a spot where the natural light works best. Early mornings and evenings are best suited as the sunlight is not too harsh. Also shaded backgrounds like a tree or building will soften the effect of very bright light and make it easier for your subject to look at the camera. You could also try using a reflector to manipulate the light.
Make sure your camera is set to capture in natural light. Adjust the lens aperture according to the amount of light around for best effect.
Clothes and makeup
Outdoor photography can become a sweaty affair. Make sure your subject is wearing comfortable clothes and that the makeup is smudge proof. This way you can avoid pictures with sticky clothes or runny makeup.