20 Absolute Beginners Tips for Natural Light Portraiture

When you’re first starting out shooting portraits, it can be kind of nerve wracking. But in all honesty, it’s simpler than you think. Once you’ve got the technical tips down, you’ll be able to focus on the artistic parts of actually creating a compelling portraits.

Here’s a checklist.

Browse Pinterest for Ideas on Natural Light Portraiture

Sigma 85mm f1.4 at ISO 400 f2.5 and 1/160

Sigma 85mm f1.4 at ISO 400 f2.5 and 1/160

You Don’t Need to Shoot Exclusively During the Golden Hour

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 85mm f1.8 review sample portraits Natalie (2 of 4)ISO 1601-640 sec at f - 1.8

Use Lenses at a Proper 85mm or Longer

Chris Gampat Clay Von Carlowitz Portrait Session March 2015 (49 of 56)ISO 4001-640 sec at f - 3.5

Use Lenses Wider than 85mm Properly With Caution

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Rokinon 135mm f2 lens review portraits extras (2 of 3)ISO 8001-160 sec

Keep Your Subject Within the Central Areas

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Rokinon 135mm f2 lens review portraits extras (1 of 3)ISO 8001-160 sec

Direct Sunlight Rarely Works

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Photos of Katie Catena (4 of 9)

Cloudy Days Offer the Softest Light for Photographs

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 64mm f2.4 art lens portraits with Amanda (10 of 11)ISO 4001-500 sec

Work in Places Where You’ve Got the Most Light For Your Creative Vision

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Eli Samuel Portrait sample (1 of 1)ISO 4001-250 sec at f - 1.0

Use Spot Metering

Model: Bec Fordyce

Model: Bec Fordyce

Photograph Under Awnings and in Shadows For Better and More Even Control Over Exposures

Infographic-the-phoblographer-shoorting-portraits-during-the-daytime

Diffuse Window Light with Blinds, Shades or Curtains

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phottix Indra500TTL Images portraits with Erica (1 of 4)ISO 2001-180 sec at f - 1.4

 

Backlight > Front Lighting

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 lens portraits for review (4 of 5)ISO 8001-800 sec at f - 2.8

When Side Lighting: Shoot to the Side of the Subject

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 lens portraits for review (5 of 5)ISO 4001-250 sec at f - 4.5

The Blue Hour Can Be More Magical Than the Golden Hour

Soft lighting Pro Tip: When shooting portraits, try spot metering for the face and overexposing by 1/3rd of a stop.

Soft lighting
Pro Tip: When shooting portraits, try spot metering for the face and overexposing by 1/3rd of a stop.

Pay Attention to the Colors of Buildings; They’ll Affect Skin Tones

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer 85mm vs 50mm portrait test image of steph (1 of 1)ISO 2001-2000 sec at f - 1.4

Good Portraits Are a Collaborative Team Effort

Slightly leaning into something. For this portrait position, it's important to always make the person's higher shoulder lean into the pole, tree, etc.

Slightly leaning into something. For this portrait position, it’s important to always make the person’s higher shoulder lean into the pole, tree, etc.

Good Communication Between You and a Subject is Key

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 70D Portraits of Jesse (4 of 11)ISO 1001-800 sec at f - 2.0

Be Conscious of Skin Tones, Wardrobe Colors and Environmental Colors for the Editing Stages

Model: Grace Morales

Model: Grace Morales

Don’t Be Afraid to Raise Your ISO Setting

Chris Gampat Alex Simmons Manly headshots (2 of 14)ISO 1001-320 sec at f - 2.8