Quick Tips for Shooting Natural Light Portraits Outdoors

One of the best places to shoot natural light portraits is, well, outdoors! Find out how you can use the natural light available outdoors in these quick tutorials.

Previously, we’ve shared an Adorama TV tutorial by Mark Wallace showing how to shoot natural light portraits indoors. But of course, that’s not the only way to work with natural light. If you want to try shooting portraits outdoors, where there’s plenty of natural light, here are a couple more quick tutorials to help you get beautiful results!

When you’re shooting outdoors, you have a flood of natural light to work with. Depending on your location, you may or may not have some trees, buildings, or other elements blocking out some of the light and creating shadows. But if you know what are the best times of the day to shoot outdoors, you’re one step ahead when it comes to nailing beautiful shots. The video tutorial below by Bach Photography gives us an idea:

If you’re planning to shoot somewhere very open with lots of unobstructed light, it’s best to do it around late afternoon. It won’t be too hot and, as mentioned in the video, the natural light will be mostly soft and even. As a plus, the sun will give you a warm, yellowish or orange-y light that can also serve as a nice rim light. Since the sun is also low in the sky at this time of the day, you also won’t get harsh highlights or shadows — perfect for shooting portraits!

Now, another reason you might want to shoot in the late afternoon is so that you can work until the so-called Golden Hour – the time of the day where everything is just bathed in this beautiful golden glow, as the term suggests. In his tutorial below, Karl Taylor, provides handy tips for working outdoors in natural light, and demonstrates how we can use the Golden Hour to our advantage with a simple lighting trick.

As he noted and demonstrated, shooting against the light can yield some beautiful results as long as you know this little handy trick. Simply use a reflector to illuminate the face of your subject. This makes sure you get the beautiful back lighting but also address the shadowed area that needs some fill.

Pretty handy tips, yes? Go ahead and practice shooting portraits in natural light outdoors today and let us know how it goes!

Screenshot image from the video by Karl Taylor.