Hi everyone! My name is Glenn, I am a wedding photographer based in Wilmington, NC.

One of my many, countless experiences is capturing a subject in natural light.

It is the most common, most versatile style of photography that relies on ambient or available light.

What is Natural Light Photography?

To put it simply, any light that is provided by the environment is natural light such as sunlight from windows, open doors, string lights, neon signs, lamps, etc. is natural light.

Unlike studio photography which often uses artificial lighting setups, natural light photography captures images in their most authentic and unaltered form.

Why choose Natural Light?

Natural light photography is favored by many photographers for these key reasons:

  1. Soft and Flattering Light: It provides soft, even lighting that minimizes unattractive shadows and highlights, resulting in natural-looking portraits.
  2. Atmosphere: Captures scenes authentically, emphasizing real emotions and moments, making it ideal for storytelling and documentary photography.
  3. Versatility: Natural light changes throughout the day, allowing for diverse image creation, from the gentle morning glow to the dramatic golden hour.
  4. Lightweight and Mobile: Minimal equipment makes it a more lightweight and mobile approach, enabling focus on creativity.
  5. Time Efficiency: Saves time during photo sessions, as there's no need for complex lighting setups.
  6. Subtle Details: Excels in capturing nuanced textures and details in subjects and scenes.
  7. Effortless Post-Processing: Natural light images often require less post-processing due to balanced and authentic lighting. This simplifies the editing process, making it faster and more straightforward.

Types of Natural Light

There are many different scenarios that would make this type of style work.

  • Sunset or Sunrise Lighting
  • Indoor Lighting
  • Sunny Skies
  • Overcast or cloudy skies
  • Shade
  • Street lamps
  • Bounce Light

Lighting at Sunset

Sunset and Sunrise lighting

This is the most popular because the light is softer and more diffused, offering a warm, golden glow that enhances skin tones and creates stunning backdrops.

Indoor Lighting

Indoor lighting

Using window lighting, lamps, bathroom lighting can help achieve a more intimate and controlled environment, enabling you to play with shadows and highlights creatively.

Sunny Skies

Sunny skies

This would create harsh shadows but can still provide beautiful photos if done correctly, especially by using reflectors or diffusers to soften the light.

Foggy or misty with overcast skies

Overcast or cloudy skies

Second most best lighting because it acts like a natural softbox, evenly diffusing light and minimizing harsh shadows, which is ideal for capturing true colors without the glare.

Subject with the sun behind Shell Island Resort


Third best lighting as it provides a consistent, even light source that avoids the intensity of direct sunlight, making it excellent for midday photography.

Ambient Lighting from string lights and stand lamps

Street lamps

Its similar to sunny lighting in that it can create harsher, more directed light, often requiring careful positioning to manage unwanted shadows or highlights.

Bounce Light

Light that bounces off a wall or other materials like white foam core can be used to illuminate a subject softly, filling in shadows and reducing contrast in a scene.

Couples under a lamp

Blue Hour Light

This is favored for its ethereal and serene quality, as the indirect sunlight casts a cool, blue tone that can add a mystical and tranquil mood to photographs. This light occurs shortly after sunset or just before sunrise, providing a brief window where the ambient light is evenly balanced, ideal for capturing cityscapes or landscapes with a surreal, dreamlike effect.

"Calm before the Storm" lighting

This unique lighting situation often brings a dramatic and intense atmosphere to photographs. The sky may appear unusually dark and heavy with clouds, yet there's often a surprising amount of diffused light that softens shadows and enriches colors. This kind of light can add a profound depth and moodiness to images, making it perfect for capturing landscapes or scenes with a powerful, emotive impact.

How to use or "see" available light?

One of things that you'll probably encounter when starting out with photography is finding a way to make your subject stand out without any use of artificial lighting.

Here are a few ways to take advantage of available light:

  • At sunset, use the sun to backlight your subject and create a glow
  • Also at sunset, find light that shines in between buildings to make your subject glow. I usually stop when I see light that shines on a wall and figure out how I can use it in the future.
  • Use the shadows to create interesting dimension to your subject
  • Turn your subject to the side to also create another dimensionality to your subject

Subject is backlit from the sun.

Photo of subject when light is shining between two buildings

Light on subject between two buildings.

Same subject, same time, but the sun is behind the clouds.

The sun peeked through the window light. We also used fog to create visible shadows in space

Natural Light Wedding Photographer

Hey! my name is Glenn, Wedding photographer based in Wilmington, NC. I love talking about my past experiences in Wedding photography. I'm not an educator by any means but I do know when a photo looks noteworthy or should be given an award.

If you're looking for a Natural Light Wedding Photographer in North Carolina, don't hesitate to email me at glenn@pinkpenguinstudios.com.

Or fill out a form below!