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How TWJ Lights Up: A Quick Breakdown of Natural vs. Artificial Light in Photography

Let’s play a game. Imagine you’re a busy photography client of ours—heck, maybe it’s your first time working with us! You probably have a slight vision of what you want your brand’s photos to look like, but you don’t know the exact vocabulary to explain it. When you arrive, the photographer asks you, “So, would you like to use natural or artificial light for these shots?”

and you have 

no

idea 

what 

they 

are 

talking about. 

Don’t panic! We’ve got your back.

Here at The Wonder Jam, we strive to empower our clients to be able to make conscious decisions every step of the way—without getting bogged down in the details. When you step in as a first-time photography client, knowing a few key differences between natural and artificial light is a must. That’s why we put together this one-stop shop for everything you need to know about your lighting options.

Natural Light

We all know what natural light is. In fact, there’s probably a window nearby letting some in right now. Natural light is widely accessible, but it’s trickier to harness in a photo than you might think.

Here’s what you need to know:

Generally speaking, outside of direct sunlight, natural light is softer, imperfect, and easy on the eyes. Because the light changes quickly, no two photos will look exactly alike. True, making photos appear to be uniform is totally possible (we do it all the time!), but it’s also very time consuming and causes longer turnaround times.

Artificial Light

Artificial light is intimidating to a lot of people, but it offers so many advantages that natural light does not. Although it may take some time to set up, it stays consistent over time and is available any time of day. Artificial light is a must for many high-energy fashion looks, but can be manipulated to appear as if it is natural light, as well.

Need proof?

One of these was taken with natural light and the other with artificial light. The differences are minimal with just a quick set up!

So, what’s the advantage of making artificial light look like natural light? Well, it stays the same all day and looks super consistent. Although artificial light is the gold standard when it comes to shooting product shots, it isn’t very mobile, making it less flexible when moving to new locations.

Maybe you’re still confused. No problem at all! For all you visual learners out there (myself included!), here are some side-by-sides photos that are both naturally and artificially lit, so you can see the difference yourself!

Natural Hard Light vs Artificial (hard light)

Natural Light (soft) Artificial soft (soft)

NATURAL vs MIXED (ARTIFICIAL AND NATURAL) vs ARTIFICIAL

I hope this post was helpful! Photography lighting is tricky, so if you have any questions whatsoever, drop a comment below!

October 4, 2019
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