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3 Ways to Take Flattering Portraits Using Window Light

Do you struggle with taking flattering photographs of people? What if I told you that you can easily achieve this indoors with the help of window light?

I've been taking photographs for over 14 years and I'm still very biased when it comes to window light. It's incredibly dynamic and something anyone can use to take beautiful portraits.

In this mini post, I want to introduce you to 3 approaches that will help you take flattering photographs in the comfort of your home. No artificial lights or accessories needed!

natural window light portrait

Use Direct Light to Add Drama

If it's sunny outside, experiment with dramatic portraits.

When it's selective, direct light can help you take flattering photographs of people. The key is to make sure that your subject's entire face isn't covered in harsh light. If the light is too intense, add curtains to the mix or ask your model to take a few steps away from the window.

Angles are also important. If the sun happens to be directly above your model, you'll end up with skin texture that looks uneven. To create a soft look that's ideal for portrait photography, make sure that the light evenly covers a part of the subject's face.

To make things extra creative, add a layer of shadows by using patterned objects like lace curtains or hair.

natural window light portrait

Create Softness and Mystery Using Side Light

Shadows are great for creating depth and giving your photographs dimension. If you're not inspired by the traditional "portrait look", this type of lighting is for you. In my experience, this kind of lighting is at its best on cloudy days.

In my opinion, side light is ideal for creating portraits that are elegant and mysterious. When half of your model's face is covered in shadows, viewers will be naturally drawn to the photograph.

Ask your model to stand next to the window so that only one side of their face is lit. The highlight-shadow ratio doesn't need to be perfect, but there should be some contrast. If it's not too obvious, your subject should stand closer to the window.

natural window light portrait

Use Backlight to Create an Ethereal Atmosphere

Bright, airy, and dreamy portraits often have the same thing in common: backlight. This isn't always the case, but it's something I keep in mind when I want to create a dream-like atmosphere in my photographs.

Portrait photographers often use this technique during the golden hour, but you can use it whenever you like! All you need to do is shoot against a source of light (or in this case, the light coming from the window). If the results are too dark, use a higher ISO.

This is completely optional, but you can also use a reflector to make your model's face glow.

natural window light portrait

What did you think of this mini article? I'd like to focus on different photography themes and ideas in the coming weeks. If a certain topic stands out to you, please let me know in the comments. You're welcome to ask questions, too!

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