‘But you won’t want this space, it’s got a massive window in it. Surely photographers want darkness?’
I can still hear the estate agents words from all those years ago when I was looking at spaces for a new studio.
He couldn’t have been further from the truth - Photographers LOVE light, it’s at the core of what we do. We take light, we play with it, we bend and shape it to our will, and we create beauty from it.
I pretty much bit his hand off, signed the lease and set about turning this old office into a new creative space.
So what’s the deal with natural light? Why do some photographers make a big deal about ‘being a natural light’ photographer? The short answer is that when used skillfully, natural light is the most beautiful and radiant light there is. Portraits created with it are infused with a subtle warmth and give the image an almost painterly like quality.
It’s possible you’ve guessed now that I love working with natural light (I love working with flash too, but that’s another story for another post). There’s just something about being able to control a thing you can’t see and to shape it to your needs that thrills me. It’s the same as that sense of wonder at the alchemy of taking film, dunking it in developer and seeing images emerge that enthralled me when I was a photography student.
Portraits created in natural light have a quality about them it’s hard to mimic with studio flash. Sure, I’m an expert in using flash and can also make it look beautiful, but there’s an subtle edge to natural light. Once you see it in your portraits, you’ll forever be in it’s thrall.
It’s especially great for portraits of young ladies and men around 8 to 16. Something about that age group really lends itself to natural light. Parents are always drawn to those portraits - I think it’s the eyes. In natural light a persons eyes really shine (there’s a terribly boring explanation as to why - it’s all to do with iris size and the like, but let’s just say it makes your child’s eyes shine :D)
Another benefit is because I’m not having to use giant flash modifiers and the pop pop pop of the tube it makes kids feel more at ease, so they relax and look their best.
Next time you’re thinking about having a portrait commissioned of your kids, consider a natural light portrait.