Natural Light Portraits: Weekly Photography Challenge - Digital Photography School
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Natural Light Portraits: Weekly Photography Challenge

This week with the launch of our brand new Portraits eBook I thought it might be fun to run our weekly challenge with a Portrait theme but focus in on portraits that are ‘naturally lit’ – as it is a very accessible theme (all you need is a person… and some daylight).

Natural Light

Hopefully it’ll make a great practice exercise for those of you who picked up the eBook but also be a fun one for those who have not yet grabbed it.

Feel free to be creative with the theme – you might like to shoot shot of someone indoors by a window, to head into the great outdoors, you might like to shoot a headshot, or a full body shot – whatever you like.

Also remember that while you’re shooting with only natural light for this challenge that that doesn’t mean you can’t use some kind of reflector to help light your subject (as in the illustrating picture above by Ed McGowan.

Once you’ve taken and selected your best natural light portrait upload it to your favourite photo sharing site and either share a link to it or – embed it in the comments using the our new tool to do so.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites with Tagging tag them as #DPSNATLIGHTPORTRAIT to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

Also – don’t forget to check out some of the great shots posted in our last challenge – Best Shot of 2012 challenge where there were some beautiful shots submitted.

To help you with this challenge don’t forget to pick up the new Portraits eBook (do so this week and you get a free 2nd Portraits eBook). You might also like to check out our Natural Light eBook too which will have some relevant tips too.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some older comments

  • Aish

    April 22, 2013 01:41 am

  • Andrew Batt

    April 2, 2013 06:21 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/abphotodreams/8609698129/[img]

  • Jenny

    February 6, 2013 02:02 am

    Mine isn't a "conventional" portrait so don't be a douche :) Thnx~

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/xjennyx/8439271623/in/photostream/

  • Maureen Spagnolo

    February 5, 2013 01:11 am

    http://mbsphotography.zenfolio.com/p1055781418/h5428533e#h5428533e

  • Svetlana Matviy

    February 3, 2013 10:41 am

    to my previous post: photo http://photo.qip.ru/users/svetlam.photofile/4178030/101864748/

  • Svetlana Matviy

    February 3, 2013 10:38 am

    The shot was made while walking with my friend at the city's lake. It was enough cold, but transparent fresh air, lots of white around and soft light under heavy clouds inspired me to make a photoseries, later i named it as "Frozen symphony". Interesting challenge, interesting people, liked it.
    Here is the same photo in higher resolution http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=522870017758134&set=a.112613092117164.5862.100001054223450&type=1&relevant_count=1

  • Maureen Spagnolo

    February 3, 2013 10:31 am

    Kali, and snow window

  • Maureen Spagnolo

    February 3, 2013 10:30 am

    http://www.zenfolio.com/mbsphotography/p1055781418

    Kali

  • Evelyn Gaston

    February 3, 2013 12:50 am

    http://www.blipfoto.com/entry/2714933

    Early morning light.

  • Maria

    February 2, 2013 03:34 pm

    My friend Ashley.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/25681984@N05/8372442420/

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/25681984@N05/8372442420/' title='Bridge' url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8509/8372442420_d5dd4c3774.jpg']

  • Mario Oostendorp

    February 1, 2013 07:34 pm

    [eimg url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8050/8435088592_985f0b8dff_z.jpg' title='8435088592_985f0b8dff_z.jpg']
    Natural Light Portait of my Cousin in Peel Forest using the light coming through the canopy of the bush.

  • Mario Oostendorp

    February 1, 2013 07:24 pm

    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8050/8435088592_985f0b8dff_z.jpg"
    Natural Light Potrait taken in Peel Forest using the light breaking through the canopy of the forest

  • Mario Oostendorp

    February 1, 2013 06:57 pm


    This is my natural light portrait,taken at the foot of the largest Totara Tree in New Zealand. I have used the light penatrating the bush canopy to light my subject

  • Brian Volinic

    February 1, 2013 02:40 pm

  • Brian Volinic

    February 1, 2013 02:38 pm

    A floor to ceiling glass block window and exposed brick wall in my girlfriend Jamie's bathroom combine to provide a lovely natural light shot. Here's Jamie humoring me with a pose.

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/volinicvisuals/8434691604/' title='Jamie' url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8083/8434691604_c51dd06693.jpg'][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/volinicvisuals/8434691604/]Jamie[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/volinicvisuals/]bvolinic[/url], on Flickr[/img]

  • Vicki

    February 1, 2013 02:01 pm

    Snow is a really good light reflector.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/92073544@N04/8433557117/in/photostream

  • john

    February 1, 2013 12:10 pm

  • john

    February 1, 2013 12:09 pm

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/29432399@N06/8122638104/' title='By the window' url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8055/8122638104_eb1427ac17_c.jpg']

  • VIRGINIA MACKO

    February 1, 2013 12:00 pm

    Natural Light..

  • Anna Soffia Óskarsdóttir

    February 1, 2013 10:52 am

    Window on the left gives ligth to the face and window at back highlites the hair

  • Jem

    February 1, 2013 09:03 am

    This is a great assignment - I can't wait to have a go!

    And I would love for you to do a guest post one day on how to escape noise... like in the above shot - it's pretty clear of noise even though part of the image is quite low light. I seem to have issues sometimes with escaping it! When I come round to editing in LR 4, it's suddenly there! I know the Luminance adjuster can sort it out a little, but I find that it makes it look unnatural, and if you only adjust it a tiny bit then it doesn't make a difference.

    So I would love some help on this subject.

    Many thanks,

    Jemima.

  • Stefan

    February 1, 2013 08:32 am

    I'm a big fan of natural light photography. Here's a couple I took recently:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/66988209@N07/8433761792/ This one is my girl at a recent wedding.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/66988209@N07/7416172156/ This is my old man, admonishing me for taking untold shots without warning :-)

  • jon

    February 1, 2013 08:19 am

    Outdoor picture on a Ferry with the NYC Skyline in the background.

    http://flic.kr/p/dRbD9K

  • Carolyn Scaringello

    February 1, 2013 07:15 am

    I did a natural light photo shoot of my friend who is a DJ around Las Vegas. I'm new at this so any comments on any of my work at my website would be great. Thanks. http://www.flickr.com/photos/52011851@N04/sets/72157632656035825/

  • Arjun

    February 1, 2013 06:06 am

    My entry for natural photography !!

  • Paul Furborough

    February 1, 2013 04:36 am

    Canon 7d sigma 85mm Gold Reflector

  • Paul Furborough

    February 1, 2013 04:34 am

    Canon 7 d & Sigma 85mm taken at sunset and using a gold reflector

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/furbs01/8431344835/in/photostream

  • Leo

    February 1, 2013 01:42 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/80466404@N07/8363235425/

  • Leo

    February 1, 2013 01:26 am

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/80466404@N07/8363235425/' title='Irina' url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8371/8363235425_8aaec0079e_c.jpg']

  • Antonio

    January 31, 2013 10:59 am

    self-portrait
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rack_one/8346892224/

  • Pulkit Saksena

    January 31, 2013 07:23 am

    Taken late in the afternoon with the sun going down in Central Pennsylvania using a Nikon 85mm lens.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/igotcandy/7776688004/in/photostream

  • Cheryl Schoen - CIS Images

    January 31, 2013 07:07 am

    Natural in Newport, RI

    https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/774590_251035021695189_555886646_o.jpg

  • Guiller

    January 31, 2013 05:45 am

    Hi all. Only natural light. Hope you like this.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/58576244@N05/8430763584/in/photostream/lightbox/

  • joshi daniel

    January 30, 2013 10:14 pm

    mine from dubai: http://joshidaniel.com/2012/12/26/220/

  • Heather S

    January 30, 2013 09:53 pm

    My friend at her mother's house looking out the window

  • K8QP

    January 30, 2013 09:13 pm

    Here is my shot :)

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=279389912118969&set=a.279384965452797.69487.125337697524192&type=3&theater

  • Adam

    January 30, 2013 09:07 pm

    This is one of my friend Lewis on the london underground. The light was iffy and the space was crowded but I did my best.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_hall/8421526254/in/photostream/lightbox/

  • myso34

    January 30, 2013 06:56 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/64766313@N07/8419013851/

  • Andrea

    January 30, 2013 06:03 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/83908562@N05/8386599058/in/photostream

  • Mike

    January 30, 2013 02:44 pm

  • Pulkit Saksena

    January 30, 2013 02:02 pm

    Taken late in the afternoon with the sun going down using a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/igotcandy/7776688004/in/photostream

  • Patrick

    January 30, 2013 02:00 pm

    http://photos.orbis-is.com/People/Nick/27749191_WgPPFH#!i=2339057887&k=chPKZTw

    Love catching natural light by the window

  • Pulkit Saksena

    January 30, 2013 01:58 pm

    Here is my entry for the natural light portrait contest.
    This was taken late in the afternoon with the sun almost setting with an 85mm f/1.8 lens.

    [eimg url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8296/7776688004_13d2420c93.jpg' title='7776688004_13d2420c93.jpg']

  • Wim

    January 30, 2013 01:57 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fluoduck/8427910503/in/photostream

  • Armando garcia

    January 30, 2013 01:41 pm

    this is my favorite model
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/0802armando/8180743880/in/photostream/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/0802armando/8235297402/in/photostream/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/0802armando/8180764548/in/photostream/

  • tomservo51

    January 30, 2013 01:18 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/joetuna/8427831351/

  • Matthew

    January 30, 2013 01:13 pm

    Model Chyna illuminated with natural light
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/meabbott/8390203735

  • Reena

    January 29, 2013 03:31 pm

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/reenapatel/8414242170/' title='ANSHIKA. when one has someone like her at home, who can resist clicking? p.s. people say she has got eyes like mine ^_^' url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8327/8414242170_c32d5f3293.jpg']

  • Reena

    January 29, 2013 03:31 pm

    shot at around 4pm near window..
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/reenapatel/8414242170/in/photostream

  • Karen

    January 29, 2013 11:59 am

    Natural light is beautiful, soft and as you said in the article, available to all of us all the time. Beautiful!

    http://studiophotographygear.com/blog/

  • Mark Stumme

    January 29, 2013 11:26 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mstumme/8425688936/in/photostream

    The Good Stuff

  • Mark Stumme

    January 29, 2013 11:25 am

    Hitting The Good Stuff

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/mstumme/8425688936/' title='HittingTheGoodStuff' url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8196/8425688936_56e040129a.jpg']

  • Mark Stumme

    January 29, 2013 11:19 am

    The Good Stuff

  • Steve Vorkoeper

    January 29, 2013 10:55 am

    I love natural light and my grand daughter

  • Jeff E Jensen

    January 29, 2013 05:19 am

    I need to do more with natural light, I find that I'm relying on off-camera flash, reflectors, etc.

    Here's some from a couple of months ago:

    http://jeffejensen.blogspot.com/2012/10/zombies.html

  • DyaDyo Sadim

    January 29, 2013 05:03 am

    Here is mine in Black and White
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dyads_pix/8412709847/in/set-72157632502024562

  • Wendy Wooley

    January 29, 2013 01:15 am

    This shot is without a reflector and shooting back into the sun. I wanted the shot to be very contrasty and sort of edgy. The subject was acting a little edgy and I wanted a photo to compliment his mood. I under exposed the shot to make the overall shot have a heavy contrast. I thought it came out very cool.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wendy_u/8418724696/

    as an FYI - the horse in the photo is a stallion that was bred/owned and raced by singer/composer Burt Bacharach.

  • Wendy Wooley

    January 29, 2013 12:41 am

    In this photo I really wanted the "sunburst" as part of the portrait of the dog and owner. I had to set my camera at a very deep aperture and in order to get my subjects to show up, I had to light them up with a reflector. I love how this turned out!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wendy_u/8398151235/

  • Wendy Wooley

    January 29, 2013 12:37 am

    I do quite a bit of pet photography where I try to use natural light as much as possible in order to allow me a nice shallow depth of field when I want it. Here is an adorable sheltie that I put in front of a dark background, backlit by the sun and then used a reflector to put light and warmth on the subject.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wendy_u/8398148563/

  • SJ Fotography

    January 28, 2013 09:02 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjzclicks/7709164644/

    its an oil painted version, you can find the real photo below

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjzclicks/7261758126/

    there are few more shots taken in natural light !!

  • Henry G.

    January 28, 2013 05:50 pm

    My little boy...

    http://www.fotoblur.com/images/327507

  • Patrick Chondon

    January 28, 2013 01:09 pm

    A photograph taken with my new Fuji xe-1 and 35mm 1.4 lens. Photo had black and white film simulation applied in camera and some post processing in Lightroom.

    http://flic.kr/p/dPcCz4

  • blueb3ll

    January 28, 2013 08:51 am

    My daughter showing off her new ear ring

    http://500px.com/photo/17379647?from=set/544399

  • Runciman

    January 28, 2013 06:42 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/runciman1/7868179574

  • Jotazeta

    January 28, 2013 04:50 am

    Beautiful sunset

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jotazamora/8252078723/in/photostream

  • raghavendra

    January 28, 2013 03:43 am

    Good to see the photographs in natural light

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com

  • Joe D

    January 28, 2013 03:29 am

    or this one!

    http://greenmartini.com/photos/51382

  • Joe D

    January 28, 2013 03:26 am

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4666790502352&set=a.1496444685688.2064766.1071219008&type=3&theater

  • Gahagen Photography

    January 28, 2013 03:10 am

    This was outside yesterday in the snow. It was kind of overcast so I used a slight flash but most of the light is being reflected up from the snow.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151379431839297&set=a.10151339462309297.487933.126566309296&type=1&theater

  • Govindarajan

    January 27, 2013 11:13 pm

    Visiting Beijing presented me an opportunity to do some interesting street photography with people. Here is one such shot.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151231676504249&set=a.10150606214904249.374662.648049248&type=3&theater

  • Aref

    January 27, 2013 09:49 pm

    Here's my contribution to the Natural Light Portraits contest :
    Smile http://500px.com/photo/15286749

  • TrevorT

    January 27, 2013 02:37 pm

    My son enjoying the snowfall:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tylerjulietrevor/8419097276/

  • Amber

    January 27, 2013 08:00 am

    My sons:
    http://sugarsugarhouse.com/2013/01/25/today-at-lunch/

  • Keith McMahon

    January 27, 2013 05:34 am

    I love natural light portraits, particularly with babies where they need to look soft and cute.
    This may look like a studio shot but amazingly it is a natural light image – very proud of this one!!

  • Vicky Lewis

    January 27, 2013 04:19 am

    Lovely sunny day for a walk. Natural light.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/92670955@N08/8416487683/in/photostream

  • Marcos Loyola Rivera

    January 27, 2013 12:57 am

    An Stolen Glance...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mloyolarivera/7005156410/in/photostream

  • OSchrock

    January 27, 2013 12:52 am

    Little Girl in Black and White:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22967304@N07/6947315753/

  • Elias Sarantopoulos

    January 27, 2013 12:44 am

    My daughter

  • Scottc

    January 26, 2013 11:27 pm

    Here's one from quite a poser!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5459228042/

  • Vicky Lewis

    January 26, 2013 10:54 pm

    Pirate Princess. Taken in natural light.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/92670955@N08/8416826742/in/photostream/

  • Vicky Lewis

    January 26, 2013 10:18 pm

    Birthday Princess in a daydream, taken in natural light.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/92670955@N08/8416610714/in/photostream

  • Vicky Lewis

    January 26, 2013 10:02 pm

    Birthday Princess in a daydream. Shot with natural light.

  • Adrienne Fletcher

    January 26, 2013 09:43 pm

    My favorite from a series using natural light this weekend: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=515191915198281&set=a.515191735198299.150682.263387187045423&type=1&theater&notif_t=like

  • Keith McMahon

    January 26, 2013 08:18 pm

    I love natural light portraits, particularly with babies where they need to look soft and cute.
    This may look like a studio shot but amazingly it is a natural light image - very proud of this one!!

  • Oleh Shkurlei

    January 26, 2013 07:01 pm

  • Davide Bonaldo

    January 26, 2013 03:54 pm

    on a sunny summer day

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidebonaldo/7872454390/in/photostream

  • jshort66

    January 26, 2013 01:09 pm

    http://500px.com/photo/15064913

  • Norm

    January 26, 2013 12:04 pm

    Model test.

    http://instagram.com/p/U7VlVyOZrD/

  • Sunny

    January 26, 2013 11:57 am

    Took this picture on last saturday 8 AM.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybadmash/8394558495/in/photostream

  • inkid

    January 26, 2013 11:37 am

    Natural light from window:-
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/inkid/8206572905

  • Martin Cook

    January 26, 2013 11:20 am

    My favourite style of photography

    A couple of my sons

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinjamescook/8354997685

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinjamescook/8110153478/in/photostream/

  • SylviaB

    January 26, 2013 10:08 am

    other furkid and my hubby - taken with my DSLR shortly after I rec'd it.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/imsylbert/8414417515/

  • Tom O'Connor

    January 26, 2013 10:07 am

    Here's an interesting one (I hope!):

    http://taustinoconnor.zenfolio.com/p56998516/e1108bbea

  • SylviaB

    January 26, 2013 09:58 am

    One of my furkids...natural light - with my iPhone:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/imsylbert/6341105551/

  • blueb3ll

    January 26, 2013 09:35 am

    My son

    http://500px.com/photo/17379137?from=set/544399

  • Seb

    January 26, 2013 08:54 am

    Vietnamese temple keeper :
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49749846@N07/5715868693/

  • Scottc

    January 26, 2013 08:47 am

    Natural, but on a cloudy day!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5282689491/

  • cdeverett

    January 26, 2013 06:47 am

    Sorry that this was shot before this article was posted, thought it fitted the theme nicely though...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdeverett/7165356734/

  • Drew

    January 26, 2013 06:29 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/strongerthan0ceans/8392625447/

    This is the end of the week but took this during the start.

    All natural light, 50mm f2.0.

    Self portrait.

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