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How to Use Window Lighting for Portraits

Learn how to use window lighting for your portraits from professional photographer Joe Sinnott in this Howcast photography tutorial.


I'm Joe. I teach photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York. These are some window light portrait tips.

A window is probably the best and easiest light source you can use in your home. Don't use the window when the sun is shining right into it. Make sure the sun is shining somewhere else. But even so, there's an awful lot of light coming in that window and it makes for a nice, soft, diffused, attractive light when the sun's not shining straight in.

In order to keep the other side of the face, the side away from the window from being too dark, bring in a reflector or something to bounce some of the light back into the subject. It doesn't have to be a reflector like this. It could be a sheet or a piece of foam core or a piece of poster board or whatever you have handy.

Keep your background relatively uncluttered. It doesn't really matter what your background is. Try not to make it be a plain white wall or something like that, and watch for any vertical objects. Make sure they're not growing out of your subject's head when you go to take the picture.

Lift your chin up just a little bit, Syd. Turn your head a little bit to your right. Tilt your head a little bit. That's terrific. Inch towards me just a little. That's great. Move away from the couch just a little bit. Nice. That's terrific. Lift your chin. That's good. Turn your head slightly right. Very nice. Lift your chin a little higher. Turn your head a little more right. Tilt your head a little bit to the right. Very nice.

And those are a few window light portrait tips.

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