So when I first started snapping pictures I really had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t go to school for this, but I just knew I loved it, and like anything I love I just jump right on in. So I jumped right into the natural light photographer identity. I was learning as I was going and everyone else was touting it too so I was good right?
Nope! Of course I have to make things more complicated. So it started when my in-law’s bought me a on-camera flash and I walked around their home in Idaho just snapping pictures without any regard for power, spread, all those things that a “natural light photographer” really shouldn’t care about, I find the light. Well what happens in situations where you don’t have a choice but to shoot at noon, or I can’t seem to remove the harsh shadows from this clients face? Or what happens when I am indoors and I don’t want pictures that are super noisy? So I started down this path of trying to learn how to use my on camera flash which has now turned into off-camera flash. Believe me it is a real thing!! Triggers, soft boxes, gels, hair lights, whatawhata?? The list goes on and on.
So there are those photographers who have done amazing things with natural light and don’t really worry about what is happening behind the subject, us photogs call it “blown-out”. I quickly jumped into trying to fill light on my subject with still maintaining the integrity of the background behind the subject. It is a fine line between what looks artificial and what looks real and I am always looking for natural, subtle, properly lit photos. Which is why I call off-camera lighting photographers “Lightbenders” – someone who can control light in any situation. Someone who doesn’t go running for the shade to take a picture. Trust me shade is always great when you want a nice even picture, but what about when you want some hair light from the sun?
I hope you find these samples helpful.
Main Light (Harsher)
As you can see from some of these examples the fun thing with lighting is you can go as harsh as or soft as you want. You can use it as a main light, or you can use it as a fill light. I personally prefer a fill light and you will see that reflected in most of my work. I do believe there is a time and place to use only natural light but for now I will continue to be a Lightbender.