Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Let’s chat about the importance of deploying proper techniques in natural settings, how to perfect skin tone, and when’s the best time of day.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light
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Capturing Stunning Headshots

Using Natural Light

Whether you’re taking headshots for a client’s LinkedIn profile or just want to get creative with your best friend then consider positioning your human (or canine) subject in natural light. Studio photography is a beast to properly execute, especially when you don’t have appropriate lights or seamless backgrounds readily available. That’s why I always suggest and strongly urge photographers to utilize natural indoor and outdoor light to obtain a more organic, authentic feel. Natural lighting creates a much more personable and multi talented approach when using such headshots on social media, resumes, or Slack profiles — let’s agree to leave studio headshots in the ‘80s.

Let’s chat about the importance of deploying proper lighting techniques in natural settings, how to perfect skin tone, and when’s the best time of day to take said pictures.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Shot on the Pixel with a Wide Lens.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Shot on the Pixel with no lens.

Editingtips 1

Choose The Background Wisely

When searching for excellent naturally lit spots, expand your horizons and go beyond the corner of your room. Roam about outside! Though, if you’re choosing to photograph your subject in the outdoors, choose your background wisely. It’s important to steer clear from busy scenes, as this can cause a focal competition with your client. Headshots thrive when done in simplicity, so intentionally choose a blank wall or bokeh’ed tree leaves as a clean slate. Neutral backgrounds create an ease to the eye and makes it easy for the human subject to thrive.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Shot on iPhone XR in Portrait Mode with Tele 58mm lens.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Shot on iPhone XR in Portrait Mode with Tele 58mm lens.

Editingtips 2

If Shooting Indoors, Do It Mid-Day

Every photographer will tell you that photographing people must be done during the outdoor’s famed “golden hour”. However, shooting indoors is a whole different ball game. Because indoor lighting creates a challenge for finding excellent light throughout the different rooms and corridors, you must strategically photograph during the brightest parts of the day. I find that midday is the perfect time for a vibrant, bright window-lit room. A place with lots of windows will help tremendously, but we’ll get to that later.

Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 04: Location

Feelin' fine.

Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 04: Location

Using a downtown space as the central location.

Editingtips 3

If Shooting Outdoors, Do it During Golden Hour

The term refers to the hour before and after each sunrise and sunset. Their yummy and delicious golden light serves as the perfect backdrop for skin tones, scaled landscapes, and other magical scenes captured. When shooting during the golden hour, notice how warm your images will become. It’s an unbeatable representation of perfect lighting in photography, always try to shoot during this timeframe if you are able. For this photoshoot, in particular, I chose to shoot during sunrise and beat the crowds.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Tele Lens in Portrait Mode.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Tele Lens in Portrait Mode.

Editingtips 4

Find Windows and Make Them Your best Friend

This one must be obvious enough, but windows are your best friend when shooting indoor headshots. Position your subject as close to the window as possible without touching it and have their head face towards the window light itself. The subdued rays of the sun through the glass makes it so that your person’s skin tones will look perfect on camera and would barely need any post processing.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Tele Lens on Portrait Mode.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Tele Lens on Portrait Mode.

Tip 5

Finding Doorways

Finding an area surrounded by three sides of darkness and one side of bright light is a fantastic way to utilize available luminescence in an organic way. This also ensures that you’ll gain a clean, simple background as primely illustrated in Tip #1. This tip can easily be completed in any indoor or outdoor area, just be sure to utilize the shaded spots when done outdoors.

Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 01: Posing

Pouting at the knee.

Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 01: Posing

Upwards angle while sitting down.

Tip 6

Stand in the Shade

If you are unable to shoot during the prime time of a golden hour and are stuck to the confined harshness of mid-day light, there’s still a glimmer of hope. Try photographing your subject under the shady parts of your location. The shade will provide a smooth surface of light to compliment the skin tones of your person. If no shade is available, then work with what you’ve got and gone directly into the sunlight, you’d be surprised with what the phone is capable of.

Capturing Stunning Headshots Using Natural Light

Shooting with a simple background.

Happy Shooting!

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