Video of KMP photographing outside with a young girl and horse

3 Tips for Perfect Natural-Light Portraits

In order to achieve my desired aesthetic, the majority of my work is backlit and the entirety of my work is naturally lit. My favorite source of light to photograph is the sun on a clear and sunny day. I generally shoot at “golden hour” before the sun sets. I use the website to determine exactly when the sun will set on the date and location I am at.

Look for a natural reflector 

Because I don’t carry a reflector along with me, I look for natural reflectors for my subject. Some of my favorites that are commonly found at barns are gravel or paved roads, white horse trailers, or lightly colored building walls. 


Play with the sun

I call it “flirting” with the sun, when I let varying amounts of light within my lens. Once I pose my subject, I move around to get different amounts of sunshine in my lens to create variety in sunflare.

Come to the edge of the shade

When the sun is still high, I look for items to diffuse the light, such as trees. I like to set my subjects along the line of shade that the tree casts in order to keep enough light on them. If I set them back too far in the shade, it gets dark and there may be deep green casts from the grass. If I set them too far in the sun, it can be too bright with too much sun in my lens.

Interested in learning more? Watch me in action in my Working With Natural Light course.

Become a virtual second shooter as I take you alongside me on a full photo session, including: how I choose locations around the barn, how I plan the order of outfits for the subject, and how I incorporate light into different settings. Bonus tips include a look inside my gear bag, photographer outfit tips, equine ear wrangling, subject and horse safety, and an advanced look at posing.

Look for the follow-up video Editing Tutorial to learn exactly how I edited the final images. Save $250 by purchasing the courses together in a bundle here.

Kirstie jones

fine art equine photographer

A lifetime horse enthusiast, the Texas-based equine photographer has experienced first-hand the immeasurable bond between a horse and a girl. She strives to capture that special relationship for each and every client.

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