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  • Writer's picturebonniejheath

Natural light vs strobe light for headshots

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

You don't have to be a photographer to know that good light is essential for great photos. But, there are pros and cons to each approach. My answer is that it depends on the project.

When a client inquires with me about booking a session, I like to find out how their photos will be used and ask them a little about their business. If we decide to shoot on location with a natural background, I consider those shoots lifestyle sessions. Lifestyle sessions can be shot with natural light, strobe light or a mix of the two.

This client is a blogger who writes about self care and healing through time spent in nature. She needed photos for her bio page and social media marketing. We picked an outdoor location and natural light for her photo session because it worked with her business branding.

Lifestyle sessions shot on location can also be photographed indoors, where natural light might not be an option. I photographed this chef in his restaurant, and there was not a lot of sunlight coming into the scene. I used a strobe to light his face and body, but balanced it with some of the indoor lights behind him.

For team headshots sessions, I don't shoot with natural light. Natural light can come and go as outdoor conditions change. Sunlight will get more dim when clouds come between the sun and the location where we are shooting. The intensity of daylight will vary as the angle of the sun changes throughout the day. If the date we shoot happens to be very overcast and/or rainy, there may not be enough natural light coming into the windows to shoot at all with natural light.

I like to use a strobe with a large modifier that will give soft, flattering light to everyone's faces. The strobe will always have the same light output, and this ensures that our images will be consistent from the first subject's photo in the morning to our last person's photo in the early afternoon, and everyone will be happy with the flattering light on their faces.

If you are looking for a team headshots with an environmental background, we can do that too. The photo below is for an organization that likes some of their office environment in the background of their images. I have a light on the subject, and a strobe illuminating the background, so every photo I take of their team has consistent light.



Bonnie Heath, photographer, Atlanta


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