Shoot stunning portraits with window light
To create simple, attractive portraits we usually want our light to be soft and directional. Why soft? Because it’s more flattering than hard light. Why directional? Because it gives the face depth by creating highlights and shadows.
For these qualities, we need look no further than the nearest window. Because windows have a fairly large area, the light they offer is flattering for portraits. For this reason most studios (those used by painters and sculptors as well as photographers) have large windows.
You want to avoid direct sunlight, so north-facing windows are best if you’re in the northern hemisphere, as the angle of the sun means they never see direct sunlight. In the southern hemisphere, south-facing ones are best. Turn off artificial lights, as they have a different colour temperature to daylight and the colours can look muddled if you mix them together.
Of course, the beautiful bank of light from a window comes from one fixed position. But that doesn’t mean we’re restricted to one direction of light. By moving the camera we can control how light falls across the subject and come up with a variety of portraits. Here's how...