Natural Light Portraits: Weekly Photography Challenge - Digital Photography School

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.

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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

    A picture of my friend by the window

  • Andrew Batt April 2, 2013 06:21 am[img]

  • Jenny February 6, 2013 02:02 am

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

  • Maureen Spagnolo February 5, 2013 01:11 am

  • Svetlana Matviy February 3, 2013 10:41 am

    to my previous post: photo

  • 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

  • Maureen Spagnolo February 3, 2013 10:31 am

    Kali, and snow window

  • Maureen Spagnolo February 3, 2013 10:30 am


  • Evelyn Gaston February 3, 2013 12:50 am

    Early morning light.

  • Maria February 2, 2013 03:34 pm

    My friend Ashley.

    [eimg link='' title='Bridge' url='']

  • Mario Oostendorp February 1, 2013 07:34 pm

    [eimg url='' 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"
    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='' title='Jamie' url=''][/url] [url=]Jamie[/url] by [url=]bvolinic[/url], on Flickr[/img]

  • Vicki February 1, 2013 02:01 pm

    Snow is a really good light reflector.

  • john February 1, 2013 12:10 pm

  • john February 1, 2013 12:09 pm

    [eimg link='' title='By the window' url='']

  • 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,


  • Stefan February 1, 2013 08:32 am

    I'm a big fan of natural light photography. Here's a couple I took recently: This one is my girl at a recent wedding. 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Leo February 1, 2013 01:42 am

  • Leo February 1, 2013 01:26 am

    [eimg link='' title='Irina' url='']

  • Antonio January 31, 2013 10:59 am


  • 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.

  • Cheryl Schoen - CIS Images January 31, 2013 07:07 am

    Natural in Newport, RI

  • Guiller January 31, 2013 05:45 am

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

  • joshi daniel January 30, 2013 10:14 pm

    mine from dubai:

  • 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 :)

  • 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.

  • myso34 January 30, 2013 06:56 pm

  • Andrea January 30, 2013 06:03 pm

  • 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.

  • Patrick January 30, 2013 02:00 pm!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='' title='7776688004_13d2420c93.jpg']

  • Wim January 30, 2013 01:57 pm

  • Armando garcia January 30, 2013 01:41 pm

    this is my favorite model

  • tomservo51 January 30, 2013 01:18 pm

  • Matthew January 30, 2013 01:13 pm

    Model Chyna illuminated with natural light

  • Reena January 29, 2013 03:31 pm

    [eimg link='' 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='']

  • Reena January 29, 2013 03:31 pm

    shot at around 4pm near window..

  • 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!

  • Mark Stumme January 29, 2013 11:26 am

    The Good Stuff

  • Mark Stumme January 29, 2013 11:25 am

    Hitting The Good Stuff

    [eimg link='' title='HittingTheGoodStuff' url='']

  • 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:

  • DyaDyo Sadim January 29, 2013 05:03 am

    Here is mine in Black and White

  • 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.

    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!

  • 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.

  • SJ Fotography January 28, 2013 09:02 pm

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

    there are few more shots taken in natural light !!

  • Henry G. January 28, 2013 05:50 pm

    My little boy...

  • 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.

  • blueb3ll January 28, 2013 08:51 am

    My daughter showing off her new ear ring

  • Runciman January 28, 2013 06:42 am

  • Jotazeta January 28, 2013 04:50 am

    Beautiful sunset

  • raghavendra January 28, 2013 03:43 am

    Good to see the photographs in natural light

  • Joe D January 28, 2013 03:29 am

    or this one!

  • Joe D January 28, 2013 03:26 am

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Aref January 27, 2013 09:49 pm

    Here's my contribution to the Natural Light Portraits contest :

  • TrevorT January 27, 2013 02:37 pm

    My son enjoying the snowfall:

  • Amber January 27, 2013 08:00 am

    My sons:

  • 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.

  • Marcos Loyola Rivera January 27, 2013 12:57 am

    An Stolen Glance...

  • OSchrock January 27, 2013 12:52 am

    Little Girl in Black and White:

  • Elias Sarantopoulos January 27, 2013 12:44 am

    My daughter

  • Scottc January 26, 2013 11:27 pm

    Here's one from quite a poser!

  • Vicky Lewis January 26, 2013 10:54 pm

    Pirate Princess. Taken in natural light.

  • Vicky Lewis January 26, 2013 10:18 pm

    Birthday Princess in a daydream, taken in natural light.

  • 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:

  • 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

  • jshort66 January 26, 2013 01:09 pm

  • Norm January 26, 2013 12:04 pm

    Model test.

  • Sunny January 26, 2013 11:57 am

    Took this picture on last saturday 8 AM.

  • inkid January 26, 2013 11:37 am

    Natural light from window:-

  • Martin Cook January 26, 2013 11:20 am

    My favourite style of photography

    A couple of my sons

  • SylviaB January 26, 2013 10:08 am

    other furkid and my hubby - taken with my DSLR shortly after I rec'd it.

  • Tom O'Connor January 26, 2013 10:07 am

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

  • SylviaB January 26, 2013 09:58 am

    One of my furkids...natural light - with my iPhone:

  • blueb3ll January 26, 2013 09:35 am

    My son

  • Seb January 26, 2013 08:54 am

    Vietnamese temple keeper :

  • Scottc January 26, 2013 08:47 am

    Natural, but on a cloudy day!

  • cdeverett January 26, 2013 06:47 am

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

  • Drew January 26, 2013 06:29 am

    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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