I love natural light photography! I can use artificial lights, such as flash, studio strobes, continuous light sources, etc, but I tend to hate the look of flash versus natural light and only use it when necessary (like wedding receptions, studio sessions or other dark lit events). Natural light photography is not always easiest. In bad lighting conditions an off camera flash could come in and save the day. It’s challenging, but it’s a unique look you can’t get with artificial light. Here are some tips how to get the BEST natural light pictures!
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME OF DAY
The best way to make sure you get amazing natural light pictures is choosing the right time of day. The best time to take pictures is an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. We call this “golden hour.” The light is soft, warm and low with no harsh shadows. You can position your subject with their fronts toward the sun, backs towards the sun or sides towards the sun and it’s all beautiful, evenly lit. When scheduling appointments, I use my golden hour apps or this site to predict sunset.
AVOID SHOOTING WHEN THE SUN IS HIGH
High noon is the total opposite lighting condition. The sun is high and creates harsh shadows no matter which way you turn your subjects! You cannot put the light behind the subject because it is straight above them. If you need, you can bring along a diffuser to help make your own even light!
FIND SHADE & POSITION RIGHT
If you find yourself shooting in poor lighting conditions like high noon, find shade to create that even light. You can still bring light to your subject’s face by positioning them towards the light. Make sure there’s still acatch light in their eye. Use a reflector to bring light back to the face!
If I’m not shooting during golden hour (or even when I am) and I can’t find shade, I backlight my subjects to avoid those nasty harsh shadows. To backlight, you just place the subjects so their backs are towards the sun. This is tricky when the light is bright to compose well. Use spot metering and expose correctly for their faces.
USE THE WINDOW
You can take great natural light pictures indoors too. Shut off the other lights in the room and use the windows! Expose for the bright side of the subject. Adjust angles of your subject and their distance from the window!
Even in low light situations, you don’t have to use artificial light to take a good picture. Grain is okay in these situations. Use your fastest lens with the lowest aperture!
xo, Kylee Maughan
Hi, I’m Kylee. I’m a full-time family and wedding photographer based out of Northern Utah. I am also full-time wife and mother of two, part-time cleaner and really part-time cook. My approach to photography is capturing and documenting families, brides, children and all people in natural, real-life ways. The pictures I cherish the most are the candid laughs, kids chasing each other around the room, real snuggles and genuine fun. I also love to teach, write and inspire. Follow along on my Blog, Facebook page, or Instagram. You can sign up for my course “Fab Families” here.
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I was born and raised in the land of Evergreens, mild temperatures & rain. I am a Washington girl through and through living in hot and cold Cache Valley, Utah. I got my Bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, majored in Family Life and loved every second!
Family and my faith are everything to me. My favorite things include chocolate, Netflix, deep fried sushi and Costa Vida.
When my husband and I were dating, I shared my dreams of becoming a photographer with him. Two months later, he sold his Xbox and bought me my very first real DSLR camera for Valentine’s Day and thus begun Kylee Ann Photography. I was completely clueless and inexperienced, but I NEVER stopped dreaming. I specialize in a photojournalistic style of shooting. My goal in every session is to capture love in natural, real-life ways. The pictures I cherish the most are the candid laughs, kids chasing each other and other genuine fun. I also love to teach! Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to be an educator online and in-person – teaching several courses, setting up workshops, mentoring sessions, organizing local clubs and writing for national blogs.