How to Shoot Fashion Using Natural Light

How to Shoot Fashion Using Natural Light

By Wendy Atkins

Shooting fashion portraits is all about creating memorable images that highlight the clothes.  You need to shoot in a location that accentuates the look you are after and get the right lighting to dictate the mood.


Follow these tips for a successful fashion shoot:

how to shoot fashion

Image 1: Fascinator series – Old world charm in a nod to 40’s style fashion complemented by sandstone buildings.

  1. Always focus on the eyes.  The eyes are “the window to the soul” and must be in focus otherwise the whole image will look wrong.  This is essential in any portrait not just fashion.
  2. Try and use the light to your best advantage, choose the shoot time for early morning or late afternoon.  The pictures will be stunning in the quality of light that those times of day provide and will enable you to take advantage of backlighting opportunities as well.

art of hair shoot

Image 2: Art of Hair Shoot – sunset

  1. If you can’t adjust the time of the shoot and need to take the images in the middle of the day position your subject in the shade.  This will enable you to get even lighting and will prevent the model from squinting as well.
  2. Use a reflector, this will allow you to bounce some light back into the face and prevent harsh shadows from ruining your shot.

natural portrait series

Image 3: Natural portrait series

  1. If you have to shoot in the sun use a diffuser over the top of the model to diffuse the light and provide even lighting on the face.
  2. Pay strict attention to the fall of the clothes, adjusting them before you shoot avoids nightmare post production issues.  Pay particular attention to the small things as well, it is generally worth having an additional person with you specifically looking for problems such as exposed bra straps, fly away hairs, crooked jewellery, chipped nails etc.
  3. Use a wide aperture as much as possible to get the dreamy, blurry backgrounds.
  4. Spot meter on the face to allow for correct skin tone.
  5. Try some jaunty angles instead of taking all images in portrait or landscape mode, make for a more fun looking photograph and is very popular in editorial shoots.

celebrating life

Image 4: “Celebrating Life” advert  

          fascinator series

  Image 5: Fascinator series


10. If the shot is for magazine usage, ensure that images aren’t too tightly cropped and include empty space to allow for text to be overlaid where necessary.

11. Have a mixture of direct eye contact shots and also somewhere the model looks away.

12. Avoid shooting up at the model, this tends to accentuate some features such as the nose and chin and will not generally produce a flattering portrait.  Shoot only upwards if you are after a dominating look, instead aim for an angle slightly above the subject’s eye level.

13. Look for a dominant feature of the clothes and try an accentuate that feature – for example you might want to use a contrasting colour background, or if the items are very colourful maybe you completely desaturate the background or colour isolate one colour.  If the collar is particularly relevant have the model touching the colour or angling her head in that direction.

boutique shoot valentine day

Image 6: Boutique shoot for Valentine’s Day







About Wendy Atkins

Wendy Atkins is a Sydney Photographer She loves capturing memories and sharing people's lives in a way that words can never express. She loves sharing in special events especially weddings and anniversary celebrations and capturing the love between people.