By Emily Jane
Dallas Photography for Influencers and Small Business Owners

Blog Posts

4 Difficult Lighting Situations and How to Beat Them At Your Next Blog Shoot


If you've attempted at least a few photoshoots using only natural light (no flash), you've likely discovered just how much light can alter the outcome of a photograph. You can have a beautiful model, stylish clothes, lovely surroundings, and a great pose, but the light will ultimately decide the fate of your photo. 

Ideally, for crisp and clean images, you want to find soft, even lighting, such as open shade outdoors. However, this just isn't always possible.

Here are four common natural lighting scenarios that are unideal for attaining that bright, fresh look, and how to overcome each one (without spending hours editing)! To avoid dark shadows and discoloration on your subject's face, read on.


1. Your chosen location is indoors (or it's too dang hot out)!

entrepreneur in a restaurant

Sometimes interiors make up the prettiest of shooting locations! But they can also be very dark and challenging to shoot in - without flash. 

Since we are going for natural lighting, find the biggest source of it! You would be surprised how big of a difference a couple feet make in being just that much closer to a window. And as always: the bigger the light source, the brighter and more natural it appears on the subject.

My advice: shoot in the middle of the day. While golden hour is most beautiful for outdoor sessions, the light after about 5 pm just wont be powerful enough to make a big impact inside.

In this photo we were as close as we could get to a large window in the early afternoon, so while the background behind our client remains quite dark, she is brightly and evenly lit.

2. The light coming in from outside isn't big or bright enough.

business woman in pink shirt by brick wall

The windows are too small or far away, or it's just getting late in the day - but you're still stuck indoors. So what do you do?

Now it's time to go in-camera. Find your ISO settings and pump it up! This will tell your camera how much light you want it to soak up. The benefit of this is that your camera has the potential to make your scene appear MUCH brighter than it did in reality. So the more the merrier, right?

Not quite. Depending on how advanced your camera is, there will be a cutoff point as to how high you want to take that number. When you zoom in and start to see "noise" or tiny colored pixels that don't belong, it's time to stop. However, often times this is enough to solve the light problem!

If your image is still coming out too dark, there is more you can do. Use a tripod! This way, you can slow down your shutter speed and let more light in, without causing camera shake. 

3. You're able to shoot outdoors, but under cloudy conditions.

wedding planner outside in deep ellum

Finally! We've made it to our dream spot. Ahh, yes... the open air, with the sun and the breeze and the... dark stormy clouds?!

You've heard that harsh sunlight isn't the way to go for flattering pictures, but did you know some types of clouds can also cause dark shadows? Sadly, a cloud cover doesn't always equal soft, diffused light.

The trick is to find the sun, and face your model towards it (the complete OPPOSITE of what you would normally do). This may prove to be a little difficult - sometimes it's hard to determine the one spot the light is coming from.

Instead of staring aimlessly at the sky, look at either your model's face or your hand. As you rotate in a circle, take notice of when the shadows disappear. As you can see on the subject's face in this photo, it will be quite obvious!

4. You found even lighting, but your color is looking strange.

young african american woman laughing at camera

Just as we use a big white poster board to bounce light onto our flatlays for Instagram, there are natural reflectors of light everywhere we turn. Some are good, and reflect clean, bright light onto your subject. But then there are the bad.

The fun graffiti wall in this photo has vibrant, neon colors which pop on camera and play well off the client's clothes. Unfortunately, the neon also decided to take over her face! (You may still notice a slight green cast.) Hint: Grass tends to do the same thing!

To avoid the classic alien look, place your model near a light, neutral surface like on a sidewalk or next to a bare concrete building. But if you just HAVE to get that brilliant, colorful shot (like I had to) then fear not! This is where just a little post processing can save your skin.

In the editing application of your choice, you'll just want to look at one function: "tint". (This is the scale that ranges from green to pink.) With this image, for example, I pushed that slider all the way down to pink, which canceled out the majority of my green hues! Adjust to your heart's content.

If there is one thing you should master for your blog photos, it's this. Conquer your light and your content will immediately jump to a high quality standard. Then you can just focus on being cute and classy!

Hopefully you can take away a few of these tips and apply them the next time your lighting goes array. Feel free to ask any more questions you might have!

Don't forget to tag your photos with #tipsbyemilyjane on social media so I can see your progress and follow your account!

Emily LeeComment