Natural light is the easiest light to utilize in photography, but to master it might take a lifetime. Great portraiture photographers such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Arnold Newman all favored natural light.
Photographs of people taken with natural light have a very unique look. These images create a straight forward honest feeling about the subject portrayed, welcoming the viewer to sense profound meaning.
With technologically advanced lighting equipment and numerous light modifiers easily available, some of the greatest artists of our time still prefer to work with natural light instead.
Richard Avedon, “June Leaf”, sculptor, Mabou Mines, Nova Scotia, July 17, 1975
Albert Newman. “Pablo Picasso”, Vallauris, France, 1954
Irving Penn. “Rudolf Nureyev” 1965
Constantine Gedal, “Untitled” from the House Series, 2011.
Robert Grant. Self Portrait, 2012
Natural light can often be difficult to control. The main benefit about windows that are facing north is that no direct light enters the room throughout the day. Consistent light will aid mastering your skill as there will be less variables to deal with. No rapid jumps in light intensity or white balance. Just evenly diffused beautiful daylight throughout your shoot.
There are a lot of great reasons to dive into taking self portraits.
1: Model knows exactly what photographer wants (and vice versa)
2: Getting a model or a friend to collaborate might not be easy at times. Convincing yourself to pose will take less effort (in most cases)
3: It is always feels good to take photographs of the person you love most. Right?
Recently we have published a review of an eBook by Anna Gay the Art of Self portraiture. Highly inspirational resource – take a look at the video.
More Inspirational resources:
Avedon at Work: In the American West
“In the American West” is one of Richard Avedon’s most interesting projects. He goes off to American West to create photographs of common folks. Staging his natural light studio in the middle of fields. This fascinating book tells how his work was done.
Arnold Newman, Five Decades.
Arnold Newman the pioneer of Environmental Portraiture. In this book his works are arranged chronologically. (book is out of print, look for used copies)
Irving Penn, The Small Trades
The Book consists of portraits of skilled trade people dressed in their work clothes and carrying the tools of their respective trades. Images taken in the 50th in Paris, London and New York. Really amazing works!
Challenge: Create a portrait using only Natural Light. Post you image in comments using share your shot link.