5 Things to Look for When Shooting Natural Light Portraits in Urban Locations
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Video: 5 Things to Look for When Shooting Natural Light Portraits in Urban Locations
Urban locations make ideal backdrops for portrait sessions. Like a large playground for photographers, downtown city walks and similar locations provide plenty of options getting creative with available scenery. Because of the bustling nature of urban locations, carrying minimal gear and shooting with natural light can prove beneficial. In addition to having to carry more gear, extra lighting gear can draw more attention to your shoot and make it harder to access certain areas. That said, here are five things to look for during your next urban, natural light portrait session.
Tip #1: Find Objects to Create Depth When Shooting Natural Light Portraits in Urban Locations
When scouting for spots in urban locations, look for objects like vines on a wall (or whatever’s available) to add foreground elements and create depth. In this location, we could’ve placed the model directly in front of the vines and photographed her straight on, but shooting alongside the vines and placing them in the foreground added depth and helps draw our focus to our subject’s face.
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Tip #2: Look for Leading Lines When Shooting Natural Light Portraits in Urban Locations
Leading lines refer to a technique or rule of composition where you use lines that direct the viewers’ attention to the main subject of the image. You can find leading lines in sidewalks, buildings, and fences, among other objects, but this brick backdrop in downtown Laguna Beach offered both strong leading lines and an appealing, consistent backdrop.
Tip #3: Use Reflections to Add Interest When Shooting Natural Light Portraits in Urban Locations
Windows make for great natural reflections, and they’re usually quite prevalent in downtown urban locations. Have your subject lean into the window and position their face out toward the light. In addition to adding visual interest to an image, reflections are great for concealing unwanted elements in a background.
[Related Reading: 5 Creative Portraits in a Crappy Parking Lot]
Tip #4: Integrate Props and Scenes When Shooting Natural Light Portraits in Urban Locations
Whenever possible, try to find props and scenes to integrate into your urban portrait sessions. This newsstand, for example, offers several compositional tools like depth and patterns to add visual appeal to the image, and it’s also a fun spot that ties thematically to an urban shoot.
Tip #5: Take Advantage of Natural Reflectors When Shooting Natural Light Portraits in Urban Locations
Bright white walls make for great natural reflectors and can provide ample light for your subject. Think of the wall as an oversized scrim or 5-in-1 reflector. When you happen upon such a location, all you need to do is find a position for your subject (somewhere near the wall) and take full advantage of the light bouncing off of this natural light modifier.
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We hope you enjoyed this video and lesson on five things to look for when shooting natural light portraits in urban locations – catch our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!