Why Window Light Is The Only Light You Need

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As photographers, we should all be obsessed with light. We should be looking for it, at it, all the time. Training our eye to see it differently and our minds to understand how to manipulate it to make our photos even better. However, not all light is created equal. There’s nothing quite like a bright, sunny day–unless you’re a photographer trying to shoot portraits outside at noon.

If that’s the case, you may be better off taking it inside. Why, you ask? Simple. Because window light is the best light if you ask me. It’s soft, flattering, and affordable. So find yourself a big window and get ready to learn how to make the most of it.

Study The Light

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If you have a nice big window in your house or studio, I sure hope you’re using it to get some great shots. If not, you may want to do a few experiments to make the most of it. One of the best ways to do this is by taking photos of the window throughout the day to see how the light changes over the course of a day. For example, the light rays cast through the window at dawn are likely to be different than they are in the evening. Similarly, midday window light is going to look a little different too.  This can produce wildly different results.

It all depends on which direction your window is facing and how much light is able to pass through it. If there’s another large building or tree outside the window, the light coming through may be filtered more than if the window is facing an open scene.

Posing Your Subject

There’s more than one way to pose a subject in front of a window if you want to use it as your main light source. It all depends on the photo you want to take. For portraits, if you want the subject’s face to be visible, have them look out the window, thus allowing the full light to cast across them and illuminate their faces. You can shoot from the side like you see in the image above.

Alternatively, you can shoot a silhouette by placing them in front of the window and using it as a background.

It’s Not Just For Portraits

When you hear the term window light, you might immediately think portrait. Naturally so, window light does indeed make lovely portraits. But it’s useful for so much more too! For example, still lifes and even architectural photography.

Window Light (DYPHAS Day Nine)

The best professional wedding photographers and lifestyle photographers know how and when to take advantage of this gorgeous lighting, too. Next time you’re browsing Pinterest looking through all the amazing photos you can find there, make it a point to look for the natural light shots.

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Study the images and look for what makes them work. Look for the direction of light, the quality of light, and where the subject was placed in relation to the light. Use these observations to create your own window light photos.

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Published Monday, January 16th, 2017 Pin It

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About the Author: Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is an adventure and fine art photographer based in Hawaii. When she's not climbing volcanoes or swimming with sharks, you could probably find her relaxing in a hammock with a book somewhere near the ocean.