Natural Light Fashion Photography Tips

You can’t always predict the weather. When you’re out on a one-day model shoot, you have to be able to think on your feet. Here’s a video where Washington, D.C. native Tim Coburn travels all the way to Ocean City, Maryland for a fashion shoot–only to find rainy grey skies upsetting his beach shots:

The video is a great tutorial on how to handle multiple lighting scenarios with minimal equipment. Tim’s going for a simple commercial look, so he doesn’t need a lot of heavy contrast or stark lighting.

Tips for Fashion Photography Lighting

  • Use a large panel for primary lighting (Tim uses a 4×7 panel, but any reflector will do)
  • Have your model facing away from the sun for a rim lighting effect
  • Think of a hazy sun as a giant softbox backlight, rather than your focal light

A 4×7 panel reflector is a great tool for fashion photography.


The reflector fills in shadows.

The sun peaks out partway through the day, so they switch locations to a tree-lined sidewalk, where Tim gets his model to dance around and move a bit. He uses the spots of light through the trees to create a more vibrant, textured series than you’d see in most ordinary studio shots. They move on to a variety of locations, demonstrating how a simple reflector can shape light in any situation.


Asking your model to move around creates playful images.


A light-hearted image from the shoot.

“One of the things I like to do is get the model to move. You can get some nice, playful shots that you can’t get when you’re posing.”  

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

2 responses to “Natural Light Fashion Photography Tips”

  1. Paulo Góes says:

    I liked a lot your style, letting the model move around and getting the most out of her beauty, not to mention the smart use of natural lighting. Congrats!

  2. G says:

    Cool, Ocean City is only 20 minutes from me. Great tips.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever