"There Are Two Ways To Spread Light: To Be The Candle or To Be The Mirror That Reflects It"


Natural light or artificial light...Which one is better? Which one "more professional"? Choosing what light source photographers use for a session is crucial for the outcome of any job. I have talked to photographers in the past about light. I have gotten responses like, "I ONLY use natural light, flashes look harsh and awful." ,or "Strobes are the only way to go, no matter what, always use a flash everywhere." After talking with so many professionals and using both natural and artificial light, I have my own opinion on the subject.


In all of my sessions, my absolute favorite way to use light is to actually use both natural and artificial light! I believe if you are taught how to shoot with both properly, it doesn't matter which one you use as long as you get the shot.

For instance the two photos above there is an obvious difference between the two. The image on the left is using natural light behind them to get that beautiful rim light around the couple. I then used my flash to fill in the shadows and light up her face. This is my signature style on how I shoot when I have a session outside. Now the image on the right is all natural light, you can clearly tell because the couple is almost a silhouette but the scene around them is well lit by the sun behind them. In my opinion, both images are beautiful and there isn't a right or wrong photograph.

One thing I try to explain to people is that just because I use strobe doesn't mean I like flat, contrasty, or harsh lighting in my images. I prefer a softer approach in my lighting techniques. The most challenging but most fun part of using flash and the sun at the same time is making the flash look natural. Most people can't tell I use a flash since it is such a soft light most of the time. 


Another advantage to using a flash with natural light is if it is an overcast or rainy day. I have been able to "fake" natural light using a strobe on overcast days to create some contrast and give my subject some life. The image above in the sunflower field is an example of this! I love experimenting with light and trying new things with both natural and artificial light.

I am curious what you think about this touchy topic with photographers.

Like and Comment Below: Which light do you prefer and why?


Gretchen Elaine Photography 

717.799.7077 ~ gehphotos@gmail.com