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Using Natural Light for Boudoir

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Lighting can be tricky when doing a boudoir shoot, but all is not lost. The best lighting for boudoir is free, natural light. A lot of professionals use only natural light for their sessions. Here is what I will be covering in this article to help you get the most out of natural light.

  • Good Weather = Good Light

  • Know Your Angles

  • Sheer Curtains for the Win

  • Embrace the Dark and Moody

  • Golden Hour & Blue Hour

  • Use a Reflector

Good Weather = Good Light

This one is pretty self-explanatory. The better weather you have outside, the better light you have inside. The best case scenario is strong indirect light, i.e. sunlight that isn’t coming directly through the window. The worst scenarios are night time and overcast or stormy skies where you have almost no light at all.

Using Natural Light in DIY Boudoir

Know Your Angles

Simply adjusting the angle that the light is hitting you or your subject can make all the difference. Moving lighting from the front to the back can completely change the look and feel of your photo.

  • Front lit: The basic lighting that most people are familiar with. It’s simply lighting the subject from the front with either natural or studio light.

  • Side lit: Lighting that is good for getting more dramatic shots. The addition of shadows into the photo help to add another element into the mix. Use a 45 degree angle for the light hitting your model and take the photo from the shadow side to start with and work it from there.

  • Back lit: Use for dark and moody shots or getting a ring of light around the models head.

  • Silhouettes: The silhouette is an off shoot of back-lit lighting. They are great for showing off the shape of the body and creating mystery.

Sheer Curtains for the Win

Sheer white curtains on a tension rod are a great investment if you are going to take your boudoir shooting seriously. They act like a diffuser, taking harsh unflattering light and turning it into soft flattering light. These are used by professionals in their studios. If they are good enough for the pros they are a great choice for you too. You can pick up a set here.

Embrace the Dark and Moody

Using Natural Light in DIY Boudoir

It’s OK if your photo is a little dark. In fact, this style--called dark and moody--is highly sought after in boudoir. So if the light isn’t perfect, embrace it, you may just get an amazing shot anyway. To pull off a dark and moody shot you will want to shoot from the side with light hitting the front and as little light hitting the back as possible. You can see this in the photo above.

Golden Hour & Blue Hour

No article on natural light would be complete without talking about golden hour. Golden hour is the time after sunrise and before sunset where you get wonderfully soft golden light. If you are shooting outside it’s hard to beat golden hour light. If you are lucky you can sometimes get amazing colors in the sky too.

Similar to golden hour is blue hour. Blue hour is the time before sunrise and after sunset where the sky starts to lighten or darken. Shooting during this time will give your photos a blue tint, which is characteristic of blue hour photography. While you aren’t likely to use blue hour in boudoir photography it is good to be aware of it.

Use a Reflector

A reflector is a handy little tool to help you get the most out of using natural light. Specifically, I’m talking about a 5 in 1 reflector. It comes with silver, gold, white, and black sides, and a diffuser. I use the silver side most often. The reflector is helpful for filling in shadows when doing portraits and close ups. It has even come in handy for food photography.

You may need to get creative setting up your reflector if you are shooting by yourself, propping the disc against furniture, or using chip clips can help here. If you are working as a couple, the photographer might try to use their off hand to hold it instead.

If you want to give the 5 in 1 system a try before making the investment you can assemble some of the various components yourself. For the white and black sides you can use a piece of foam core board. For the silver you can simply cover a piece of cardboard with aluminum foil.

Final Thoughts

In photography, natural light is your best friend. You don’t have to pay for it and it can give you amazing results. As an added bonus you don’t have to lug around any heavy lighting equipment.

One last thing. If you are enjoying this blog and wish to support the work I do here, consider using the Buy me a Coffee button at the bottom of the page to make a one time donation to show your appreciation.

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