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3 Reasons to do Headshots with Natural Light

I love natural light. I’ve probably said this before, but I prefer it to using studio lights. There’s something soft and beautiful about using the light generated by Mother Nature that makes it perfect for every occasion. I use natural light every chance I get. I even use it for my headshot sessions. You may be surprised by this but I’ve got some great reasons why. Read on to find out more.

Shoot Headshots with Natural Light

I have a 9-foot window in my studio. It’s perfect for natural light photography.

#1 – Natural light flatters every skin tone

From pale milk-white skin to dark chocolate brown, natural light makes everyone look beautiful. No matter the skin tone or the facial features natural light enhances everyone. Now I’m not talking about direct sunlight at midday. That type of light is too harsh. It washes out skin tones and creates harsh shadows. Set up your shoot in open shade. Use the side of a building or under a tree. You can even set up a canopy and shoot underneath. You will love the results, just be creative in how you use it.

Shoot Headshots with Natural Light

While the lighting behind this young woman isn’t natural. The light on her face comes from my 9-foot window. She used this shot in her modeling portfolio.

#2 – Natural light is cheap

If you are just starting out as a photographer, natural light doesn’t cost a whole lot to use. You can create beautiful head shots without fancy studio equipment. It’s a way to get your foot in the door. You might also be unique in your area. Think about branding and how being a natural light photographer might be a way to capture attention from potential clients. You could be the trendy alternative to the typical studio headshot.

Shoot Headshots with Natural Light

Taken outdoors against an old building. My client was looking for relaxed looking headshots for her LinkedIn profile.

#3 – Shooting outdoors is less intimidating

Think about all those giant light stands and softboxes. For someone who may be a little nervous about having their portrait taken, shooting outdoors can take off some of the pressure.

I find that generally, clients who are self-conscious or uncomfortable in front of the camera will relax more easily when I take them outdoors for a session. We chat for a while and generally need to walk a short distance to a location. It gives me a chance to take some of the pressure off them. The client starts to feel more comfortable and the overall look of the headshot is much better.

Shoot Headshots with Natural Light

While not your classic headshot pose, my client was relaxed and comfortable. She looks confident.

Professionals need to exude confidence in their images. They won’t be successful in their business if they look nervous or uncomfortable in their marketing materials.

As photographers, we have to visually communicate our client’s abilities

Remember headshots are all about creating an image. We are a part of the branding process for a company or a freelancer. You are helping to promote an actor or build a brand for a home stager. Your images should help attract potential business. It’s your job to tell people all about your client and their amazing abilities.

Shoot Headshots with Natural Light

As a real estate agent my client wanted a photo that associated her with the local area.

You can do this by taking beautiful and bright images that promote your client as a capable and highly skilled professional. Try using natural light in your headshot jobs. I think you will be pleased with the results. Also, remember that if you are offering a service that seems unique from all the others you can think about charging a little more for your highly specialized product.

Natural light is a great tool. I highly recommend utilizing it whenever you can. Please share your natural light headshots or any questions you may have, in the comments section below.


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Erin Fitzgibbon
Erin Fitzgibbon

is a freelance photographer, writer, and teacher, from Ontario, Canada. She specialises in portrait, sport, and fine art photography. In her free time, she escapes to the backcountry or the beach with her family.

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