Do You Know What Natural Light Photography Really Means?

Ruh Roh!  I’m about to open up a can of worms here! I may even make some folks a bit upset who say this is their profession locally in South Jersey… But here we go…

Have you ever heard someone mention that they do all natural light photography?  Sometimes they use the word “organic” oooh and ahhhh… Since organic is the cool thing these days… But did you ever wonder what the hay this actually means?  Well… Here we go!

When someone says they are a natural light photography that is explicitly what they mean… They know only natural light and how to photograph in it.  And….

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Recent shoot. Since it was a semi-cloudy day, we had to break out a soft box and reflector. Sometimes natural light is not enough! As a photographer, you must learn to improvise! Taken at our indoor studio in Salem County.

 

Yes!  Natural light is the best type of light you want in most situations!  It caresses, it emphasizes,  hey, it is just beautiful… BUT… And I’m sure you were expecting a BUT at some point. There are limitations to where you can go in this natural light photography genre.

Okay, I’ll explain… What does a natural light photographer do on a cloudy day?  Outdoors, cloudy days are the best days you can ask for, but let’s say… What happens when you have an indoor photo shoot that day? Do you call it off?

What I’m trying to say is… When folks say they are natural light.. They are LIMITED in their photographic skills.  For myself, being a photographer is knowing how to adapt to any situation… Whether sunshine or lack of any light. It’s knowing how to use natural light, artificial light and shooting in very low light situations.

Used fill flash here.
I used fill flash here. Sometimes natural light is just not enough!

 

I respect natural light photographers in how they market themselves, but they are also limiting themselves on educating themselves about other aspects in this crazy profession of photography.

Here’s the dilemma I have with natural light photography (and yes, I use it as much as I can), but in South Jersey, we only get limited days that are sunny or partly sunny.  Our yearly average, we get 94 sunny days and 111 partly sunny days (these days are most ideal when photographing).

 

I also had to use fill flash here. The sun was casting hard shadows on their faces.  This was a 1pm photo session, here in Salem County.
I also had to use fill flash here. The sun was casting hard shadows on their face. This was a 1pm photo session, here in Salem County.

 

Here’s the kicker.  This leaves you with only 205 days to utilize what the weather is giving you.  There is an average of 365 days/year. Which means you are seriously limiting yourself and your business, if you are strictly a natural light photographer.

There are such things as “bouncing light”, fill flash, using strobes or continuous lighting, ice lights and many other products on the market. Photography is definitely an art. Folks who have been in the business for over 20 years are still learning. That’s the depth photography surmounts.

I just think photography just isn’t a cut and dry business. If all you use is natural light, so be it!  Just try to be the best you can be in it. However, I think in the natural light arena itself (especially in New Jersey since our sun is lacking), you are severely limiting your overall potential as a photographer. There are just so many other arenas of photography to learn and you are just hurting yourself, if this is all you shoot in!

Well… happy shooting, my friends!

-Dee

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