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3 Tips to Better Natural Light Photos

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Learning how to effectively use light to create stunning images is essential for wedding photographers. Not only will it set you apart from other photographers, but it will give you the confidence to shoot in any type of lighting situation. We recently shared 5 off-camera lighting tips for you to use, and now we are diving into natural lighting! Natural light, while readily available to every photographer, is not always the easiest tool to work with. There are several factors to take into consideration with the light in order to take great photos. Here are 3 tips to shooting better natural light photos that you can use during your next session.

1. Time of Day

When it comes to how often natural light alters throughout the day, it is easy to have a love-hate relationship with it. One minute the sun can be casting a gorgeous golden light onto your bride and groom, and the next minute, clouds have overtaken the sky and the sun is gone. With the light constantly changing, do your best to prepare and determine ahead of time which type of light is ideal for your shoot. For example, if the bride and groom are longing for photos with the glowing sun illuminating the background, you will want to ensure that you schedule time to photograph them before sunset during golden hour.

Related: How can you easily identify and use natural light in every shoot? Check out this article by Lifetickler, where they break down the basics of natural light and ways to use it to create stunning imagery!

While the lighting and weather are always subject to change, if you know the type of natural light you want to work with, you can better plan the correct time of day to schedule shoots to achieve the signature look that represents your brand.

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Image Compliments of Susan Stripling

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2. Diffuse the Light

The great thing about natural light photos is that they do not only need to be taken when it is sunny outside. Beautiful, even lighting is created on overcast days, so take advantage of this! Often times, couples think that in order for the day to be perfect, there must be sunny and blue skies, so reassure them that cloudy days can actually be ideal! Overcast skies create a diffused, soft light that is flattering on your subjects.

Another way to diffuse the light is to position your couple in a shaded area on sunny days. This will still allow light to illuminate them, but it will not be a harsh light like direct sunlight. A great time during a wedding to use this technique is during family formals, if they are taking place outside. By placing these portraits in the shade, you will have an even light across all of the family members – this also makes them really easy to color correct, and photo editing companies like ShootDotEdit love that!

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Image Compliments of Susan Stripling

3. Position Your Subjects

Sometimes, you cannot avoid harsh lighting from the sun. If your couple really wants a photo outside in a certain location in the blinding sun, no need to panic. If there is no shade to be found, position your subjects so their back is to the sun. This will place their faces in shadow, removing any strong shadows that crossed their faces before.

If you have the option to utilize an indoor space, this is a great time to take advantage of window light. This is a simple way to illuminate part of the scene that you really want to draw attention to, leaving the rest in shadow. The mix of bright light with heavy shadows will also give a more dramatic look, which can be perfect for events such as getting ready or portraits of the bride and groom.

Related: Are you comfortable shooting through harsh lighting?

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Image Compliments of Susan Stripling

Using natural light opens up a world of possibilities since you will be able to shoot in any location. Natural light creates detailed images and will make your clients want to work with you again in the future! As you work to master lighting, download our Posing for Wedding Photographers Guide for additional tips to creating stunning images!

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