Lately I find that corporates want to be seen as less formal than in past years, and clients are tending to request for more “lifestyle” portraits in and around the office using natural available daylight. This is music to my ears as I love working with natural light. So I thought I’d talk about how I use natural light as a business portrait photographer.
Having said that, finding natural daylight in offices can be a challenge as I find most offices are on an automatic lighting system with strip light. Which in most cases can’t be turned off and can create what I call “panda eyes”, dark circles under the eyes. And, obviously panda eyes are not the best look for great portraits!
So if possible when doing an office shoot with natural light it’s ideal if it can be turned off. But in most cases it can’t. In some cases, very occasionally, I take offices into darkness! When there is no option though, I occasionally will use my Godox V1-S flashlight or other lighting in my arsenal.
But as a business portrait photographer I like to work with natural available window light because it acts as a fantastic soft box. So ideally, I like to place my subject facing the window, which creates a beautiful even light on my subject and also brings out the colour of their irises.
I also like to place my subject to the side of the natural daylight. Personally I find sometimes this suits men more than women, but can work for all genders. I find these two forms of natural daylight the most flattering. But it’s also possible to place the subject directly in front of the window. Though you’ll need to overexpose in order to see the subject or they will end looking very dark.
When I take my subject outdoors, I tend to look for gentle shade, perhaps with a textured background, out of harsh sunlight. Unless of course it’s the golden hour, at sunrise or just approaching sunset.
Summer can be trickier for photography as the sun is higher in the sky. If you face the subject into the sun they can end up squinting horribly. And the sun can also create harsh shadows on the face. My ideal scenario is always for even light across my subject’s face. So I aim to face my subject away from direct sunlight at all costs.
An arch or doorway is perfect and creates a beautiful even light. So I’m always on the lookout for a great one. Perhaps with an interesting feature. While shooting under a tree can also be a great spot for lovely dappled shade.
“Photography through the lens of a storyteller”