A brief explanation of the these different looks for and why you, as a client, might prefer one or the other…
Fairly self-explanatory: this is light that comes from a natural source, i.e. the sun :)
The quality of light for a natural light photo shoot is therefore 100% dependent on the given sky and weather conditions at the time of shooting.
Using natural light only, both the subjects and the photographer can move freely and uninterruptedly, as there's no additional equipment to set up / take down or adjust each time there is a change in location, "backdrop" or perspective. This allows for much more flexible, uninterrupted shooting, which, over a given amount of time, results in more shots being taken and, consequently, a wider choice of images.
If you've ever witnessed a photo shoot on location or been in a photographer's studio, you'll recognize this type of light which comes from a flash or strobe usually firing out of some kind of light modifier (e.g. an umbrella, a soft box, a beauty dish etc). It's called "Off-Camera" as it's not attached to the camera, but stands alone, and is synced to fire with the camera's shutter, usually by means of a radio trigger.
The amount and quality of light given from an off-camera flash is controllable. On an outdoor shoot, it can be combined with the available natural light - depending on the given weather conditions or the time of day - according to the look that is desired. Whether used subtly for a more "natural" effect or in a very pronounced way for a more stylized look, off-camera lighting can a least guarantee a well-lit photograph, regardless of the elements.
Contrary to using natural light only, off-camera flash used outdoors will mean that, over the course of a professional photo shoot, time will have to be allowed for the photographer to assemble / dissemble and modify it. As artificial, off-camera light is very close and directional (as appose to the sun's light, 149.6 million km away!), once an off-camera light has been set up, subjects are much more limited with regards to how they can move and pose.
WHEN IS STICKING TO A NATURAL LIGHT PHOTO SHOOT THE BEST THING?
If you want candid images as well as portraiture
If you're visiting Paris and you want to place emphasis on your beautiful surroundings as well as yourself
If you're more than one person
If you want a maximum number of photographs
If you have young children, where waiting around and posing precisely wouldn't be feasible or appropriate
If you prefer the look of natural light :)
WHEN SHOULD I CONSIDER A PHOTO SHOOT WITH OFF-CAMERA LIGHTING?
If you only want portraits (i.e. no candid images)
If you're an artist (actor, model, musician) wanting more promotional, stylized look to your images (and you really want the viewer to know you've had a photo shoot!)
If you need images of yourself for professional purposes (e.g. for your online business profile or biography)
If you're an individual or small group (more subjects = more complications = longer setting up and shooting periods!)
If you prefer the look of off-camera lighting :)
If you found this article helpful, don’t hesitate to like and comment - I’d love to hear from you. You can also follow my photography work and my latest creative projects on social media: