How to Shoot Light & Airy Portraits // Outdoor Natural Light Photography Tips


– Hey guys, today
we’re gonna talk about how to shoot for a
light and airy look. (house music) There’s a few workflows
to achieve this look without using all
that highlight detail. Today, we’re gonna talk
about the shooting part of that workflow, and
in the next video, I’m gonna dive into the editing. Number one: looking for
the beautiful light. By beautiful light, I mean that
nice, soft quality of light, where it’s not too contrasty,
the shadows aren’t too deep, and it’s generally even between the subject
and the background. There are some things that are
kind of out of our control. For instance, I live in Vegas, where most it’s days it’s
just bright sun and blue sky. I don’t get as much
of those puffy clouds that kind of just filter the
light in a really soft way. Regardless of the weather,
I’m always finding a way to bring in that atmosphere, and create that really
beautiful soft look. Number two: look for, and use, neutral-colored,
natural reflectors. You can use walls, or you can use the ground,
if you have concrete. I’ll often use the desert when I’m out in the
desert environments. Anything that has kind
of a neutral color to it that can reflect light
back into the shadow part of your images will
help create that really soft, even look on your subjects. Key to this is to look for
‘neutral’ colored walls. For instance, if
you have a red wall, it’s gonna reflect that red
color cast back on your subject. Number three: shoot backlight. When shooting outdoors,
in the sunshine, I’ll almost always
place my subject with their back to the
sun, or I’ll angle them just off to the sun so it
spills over their shoulder, into my lens, and
gives beautiful flares or kind of a warm
wash to the images. This is a great tip
for shooting midday ’cause if you put the
sun behind your subject, it’ll soften everything
usually and have a nicer look than that harsh light
hitting their faces. I’ll usually only
shoot front-lit after
the sun has dipped below the horizon
and the sun has set. Number four: look for
clean backgrounds. Usually for this
I’m going to avoid where I have spotty light, or really messy things in
the background of my image. Sometimes I’ll just kind
of move my subjects, or I might go as far
as, if there’s something that’s distracting in the
background of my image, I will just walk
over and move it. Pay real close attention to
every little detail of the image not just what’s in
your foreground, but everything that’s
in the background and how it’s helping
frame your subject, will make the images
stronger, and that clean look helps give that really
soft look to the images. I’ll pay attention to
if there’s a mountain or some sort of clean color,
or something that I can frame my subject
within the image, so they’re not just against
sky, or not just against white, that will help frame them
and give a little bit more dimension to the image, and
help it from blowing out if your background is a bit
brighter than the subject. Number five: your
background focus. We’re going for those
beautiful creamy, out-of-focus backgrounds. This is controlled
by two things, the first being
your lens choice. You’re looking for
those long lenses, such as the 70-200mm
zoomed all the way at 200mm to create that beautiful
effect in your backgrounds. Or you’re gonna be paying
attention to aperture, and shooting wide-open,
at your lowest aperture, a 1.4, 1.2, to create
that beautiful bokeh in the background
of your images. And then the second
way is by distance. The distance between
you and the subject, and the distance between the
subject and the background. For that beautiful bokeh, the
closer you get to your subject and also the further your
subject is from the background, the more soft it will
appear in the image. Number six: shoot
in manual and RAW. Shoot manuals so that
you can really control and dial in every
aspect of your image, and the RAW will allow you to retain as much
detail as possible, which you’ll see is
super helpful to have when we dive into
the post-processing. Number seven: under
expose slightly. Now with digital you lose
highlight details really easily. Even with RAW you can
pull it back a little bit, but those highlight
details are what gets lost. So I’ll generally
expose for skin tones and the faces of my subjects, but if there’s highlight
details in the images that are turning out
to be a little hot, and I know that I
want to keep those, I’ll under expose slightly,
and then have techniques in post that I’ll use to
bring in the shadow details. Once you do this, you’ll
have really beautiful images so that when you move
on to the next step, which is the editing
and post-processing, you’ll have lots of information. We’ll be talking
about that next video, be sure to subscribe
below, and hit the bell so that you get
notified when it’s up. Really looking forward to it, and Bella and I will
see you guys next time! Wave, yeah, yeah! Okay, now lay down.

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35 thoughts on “How to Shoot Light & Airy Portraits // Outdoor Natural Light Photography Tips

  1. Part 2 is up! 🙂 Editing Natural Light Portraits in Lightroom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aeilMGWApY&t

  2. I subscribed because you smile in your presentation! Glad to find someone who knows their stuff but isn't cocky in their presentation 👏🏾

  3. This was SO helpful. Bless you!! And your work is GORGEOUS! Makes me want to fly my husband out to Vegas for a photoshoot 🙂

  4. Light and airy are not my style but it’s my wives so thanks for the info. She really hates my low key high contrast style. Lol

  5. Anyone else find themselves staring at the dog throughout the whole video? Awesome vid by the way, really precise way of getting the information to the viewer.

  6. Great tips.. Thank you very much.. One question, when you under expose your subject which technique do you use, exposure compensation?

  7. Finally a professional photographer who tells some of their "secrets" for the rest of us pros to benefit on a different style. Thank you for this and your preset. Now I have to get used to underexposed images to make them beautiful in the end.

  8. Hi Chelsea. I have joined the mailing list twice but am not getting the presets through – have checked junk mail too. Would you be able to send it to me please so I can have a practice thanks Tracy ([email protected]).

  9. Hi chelsea! Would mind doing a before and after of the image at 2:40 including the camera setting? What do you prioritize in exposure while shooting, the subject/s or the background and light? Does ISO setting need to be at its lowest? Thanks!

  10. This video was very informative and easy to understand! Loved your tips 🙂 Subscribed & will now follow on Insta!

  11. Great info! I do have a request though, as with many tutorials, no mention of camera settings. Meaning type of metering (metrics, area, spot), focus (continuous or spot), and so on. I do like your channel and have clicked the subscribe…good stuff.

  12. I would love to see a BTS of one of your wedding or engagements sessions, including SOOC images and then the after once they're edited.
    Moving to AZ I know I'll be dealing with harsh sun more than I currently do and I love how southwest photographers like yourself, seem to have mastered the shoot to edit technique. That's something I know I struggle with. What it too far underexposed or what is too much that would interfere with a smooth post editing workflow. Thanks again Chelsea! – Alex

  13. I was thinking it was another stupid girlish tutorials that spreads misinformation, but damn this is very good! Keep up the great work!

  14. If we shoot with the widest aperture (1.4 or 1.8) could we get the sharpest images? normally the widest aperture doesn't give the sharpest images.

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