The ultimate subject of any photograph—especially portraits—is light and it’s the quality of the light that ultimately determines the effectiveness of your portrait. Here are three reasons why I like about making glamour portraits using available light and even wrote a book about it.
It’s free. There’s no expensive lighting equipment to purchase, set up, plug-in, or chew through batteries. You can make photographs outdoors using natural light or indoors using window light and all you need is a camera, lens and a subject. You can supplement available light with inexpensive reflectors or make one yourself using a piece of foam core board.
It’s easy. No modeling light requires. You can see the light falling on the model and won’t have to guess about lighting ratios or have worry about moving lights around and dealing with lightstands, hair lights, or booms. Under these kinds of conditions, you will find that your subject is more relaxed and instead of wasting time fussing with equipment you’ll be less distracted too enabling you to make better portraits.
It’s fast. Not only are there no lights to purchase, there’s also no lights to set up, tear down, or pack or drag through airport security. You eliminate the expense of buying expensive shipping cases or the specter of damage or theft (it happens) in transit. You can work faster with the subject acheiving more and better photographs while allowing them to relax at the same time.
One of the most traditional forms of available light for portraits or glamour is window light. This image was captured using only the light from the back of my former home. The model was posed leaning against the door frame, which also gives her something to anchor her pose. Camera was a Canon EOS 50D with my favorite but discontinued 135mm f/22.8 SF (soft focus) lens and an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/2.8 and ISO 800. Ans that’s the same door frame the model is leaning against on the book cover below right.
Joe is the author of Available Light Glamour Photography that’s available at your favorite book and camera store as well as from Amazon.com. For $25 (including shipping) a limited number of signed copies including a signed 5×7 prints of one of the images from the book is available.