Simple Lighting Solution

Posted by Jerry Avenaim on November 29, 2008 – 11:08 am
Lifestyle Photograph Jerry Avenaim

Lifestyle Photograph Jerry Avenaim

Here is a simple lighting solution when you’re faced with shooting a fashion photograph or a beauty shot using only natural light – at high noon!

This image could have been difficult, but I made it as simple as it gets. It used to be when shooting catalog, editorial, or just about anything using sunlight, I would have to wait for the early morning light or the late afternoon light. At times I could backlight, and I love the look. But to continue shooting throughout the day (even when the sun is directly overhead) can prove to be quite the challenge without using silks and strobes.

Once again, the luxury of time on was not on my side. Moreover, to keep a look and feel to all the ‘lifestyle photography’ I had to keep using natural light. To introduce artificial lighting here would have interrupted the natural feel of all the other images.

So the simple solution: I laid the model on the grass (I’ve done this with flower petals and a myriad of other organic materials) and standing on a step ladder I shot down on her. What this did first and foremost was give the subject an instant face lift. When shooting anyone at that angle gravity can be your best friend 🙂

And the lighting was indeed the sun, however by using a five dollar white beach umbrella I diffused the sun and created a beautiful even light, much like open shade. It can still be tough on the models eyes, so a simple ‘on three’ and shoot can work wonders!

Jerry Avenaim

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7 Responds so far- Add one»

  1. 1. Deb Fujiwara Said:

    Awesome blog, as always! There are so many photographers who can really benefit from the tips you’re sharing here. This is a perfect example of how your creativity and flexibility was used to manage shooting outdoors in conditions most photographers try to avoid. And the best part is that your solution is so simple anyone can replicate it.

    This really is a gorgeous shot. I wouldn’t have guessed it was outdoors at high noon. It’s perfect!


  2. 2. Gabrielle Geiselman Said:

    Wow…so simple and yet such a great trick to have.
    I recently shot from the morning through to about 1pm outside.
    I was trying everything I could to try and make my models look good but with the harsh direct daylight it was exasperating.
    I wish I would have had this trick on hand then!

    Thanks again!


  3. 3. Michelle henrick Said:

    Great tip..thanks:)


  4. 4. Chris Said:

    Good call – I often like to shoot a model from straight above – even when using artificial light. Just a few weeks ago I did a shoot with a singer in the Boston Commons and one of my favorite shots ended up being her on the ground, looking straight up at the camera, having just rolled around in the red fall leaves.

    Getting a model down on the ground also makes the shoot a lot more fun and dynamic.



  5. 5. A Said:

    What a simple and dynamic tool to use. I can imagine not only would it help with the light but add some flare and fun to the shoot too. I’m already thinking of more ways to use it. Thank You so much for the insight. 🙂


  6. 6. Antone Said:

    Wow, I love how simple yet straight forward and quickly you get your info across. Also there seems to be no pretentiousness from any of your comments which is rare in today’s time. You come off as a top leader w/out fear of giving out advice for others that are many many years away from your experience. Your assistants must be pretty lucky.


  7. 7. pamela Said:

    I went to a workshop of yours in Austin several years ago, and you were beyond amazing! I want to go to another. Do you have any scheduled for 2014?

    You are so generous with your knowledge and just being at the workshop was so empowering.

    I’m glad I found this blog!
    Thank you


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