On “Natural Light” Photography

When I see someone market herself as a “Natural light photographer,” it sounds to me like:

  • E♭ Songwriter
  • Two-finger Pianist
  • Warm-colors Painter
  • Eye shadow Makeup Artist
  • Chapters 7–9 Novelist

In other words, it sounds to me that this person hasn’t taken professional responsibility to learn their craft and is trying to advertise a lack of experience and knowledge as some sort of feature. It’s a term sold by the ignorant amateur to the ignorant customer, given a faux sense of superiority by using the word “natural,” as though it were “vegan,” “organic,” or “farm-to-table” light.

Usually, a “Natural light” photographer will use daylight, but will also use available light fixtures or other light sources that are readily available. If a photographer wanted to create some concept art using only sunlight, then the purist effort might make sense as a concept project. It certainly isn’t the basis for a professional business model, though.

“Photographer” means “Light-painter” or “Light-drawer,” and if someone only knows how to use available light (because “natural light” isn’t a sensical term — all light is based on natural photons; what changes is color, diffusion, direction and quality), that person isn’t ready for the title, yet.

Master the expression of light and you are ready to call yourself a photographer.

Off-camera flash used, reflected through a softbox, in addition to available daylight. (Copyright 2018 Aderyn Productions. All rights reserved.)
Off-camera flash used, reflected against a diffusion umbrella, in addition to available daylight. (Copyright 2018 Aderyn Productions. All rights reserved.)
Off-camera flash used, reflected through a softbox, in addition to available daylight. (Copyright 2018 Aderyn Productions. All rights reserved.)
Off-camera flash used, softened through a circular diffuser, in addition to available daylight. (Copyright 2018 Aderyn Productions. All rights reserved.)