You don’t always need flash to create stunning portraits. Believe it or not, the images contained in this post were shot using nothing but natural light. No flash. No reflectors or other modifiers. Just beautiful, soft, natural light.
So, where do you find it? Soft light is all around us. You just need to know where to look for it.
Firstly, I’m not going to define what soft light is – there are plenty of articles posted around the web that will explain that far better than I could. I’m going to concentrate on where to find it. You need to look for a location where there is no direct light falling on the subject, particularly from above. It should also be a location where the light has to work hard to get to the subject. By work hard I mean bounce around a lot before it falls on the subject. Great places to look are doorways, porches, alcoves and bridges.
You can’t just plonk the subject under a bridge and take the shot though. Oh no! Soft light is far more elusive than that. It exists between the shadow under the bridge and the light outside. What you need to do is ask the subject to stand in the shadow beneath a bridge and slowly walk forwards towards you. Pay careful attention to the light falling on her face and she moves. There will be a very narrow area where the light falling on her is just perfect. This is where you need to position her for the shots. Not an inch further forwards or backwards.
Get it right and the light falling on your subject will be akin to beauty light in the studio. It won’t be identical of course but will be significantly cheaper to achieve.