As a photographer, your studio is your unique and own personal space. It is where your equipment lives and your inspiration flows. If your product shot requires one more light adjustment or a client’s headshot would benefit from a blue backdrop rather than a white one - your studio provides easy access in order to achieve these specific looks.
However, don't let that prevent you from exploring the benefits the environment around you could bring to your photography. Finding the natural light and using the ordinary objects around you, can work well in your favor! Here’s how:
1. TRACK THE SUNLIGHT
When working with natural light, the first thing you want to make sure to keep an eye on is the projection of the sunlight. It is important to observe how the sunlight reflects on buildings, landscapes, people, etc. in order to get an accurate understanding of when to shoot. Depending on what you are looking for in the photo will determine the best time of day for the photos to be taken.
If you want really hard light, then peak sunlight is a perfect time. Harsh sunlight makes for high contrasts and more room to play with shadows.
If you would rather really soft light, shooting on a cloudy day makes the most sense.
2. PLAY WITH SHADOWS
Working outside on a sunny day is a perfect time to experiment with the focal points of your photography. Shadows can make great accents to any photo or direct attention to a specific part of the shot. They can be played down to be subtle or dramatized depending on the product or purpose at hand. Here are some different ways shadows can affect your photo:
Use as a Focal Point
Add Depth and Dimension
3. USE A COLLAPSIBLE REFLECTOR
When working with sunlight, you would be surprised how beneficial having a reflector at hand has been. Personally, I use a 39” white/silver reflector and I will explain how its effect on the light can really change a photograph.
When you use the white side of the reflector, it can lift up the shadows caused by strong lights, in this case, the sun. By using the white side of the reflector, it will give the photograph a much more natural finish.
The silver side of the reflector is great to use as an additional light source. Obviously, you cannot travel outside with all your studio lights, so having this side of the reflector can be very beneficial. The silver side will add contrast to your photo and will not only make any model or product in your shoot stand out from the background of the image, but also highlight the details within.
The truth is, there is a time and there is a place for both the studio and the environment around you, so don’t be afraid to make use of both!