Natural Light Portrait Techniques in a Backyard Shed

Many photographers fall victim to the notion that they need a well-equipped studio with high-end lights to take brilliant portraits. However, with the right setup and preparation, you can take equally good portraits in your home studio, room, or even your backyard using natural light. In this video, photographer Irene Rudnyk walks you through how she took some amazing portraits in her backyard shed using natural light:


Rudnyk takes the photo in her backyard shed, which has no opening for light except for the door. And since the light is reflected from multiple surfaces including the ground and the door, it creates a soft light effect. The enclosed space also means that the walls cast a soft shadow on the sides while the subject is illuminated from the side. This is similar to a studio setup with flats placed on either side of the model who is illuminated from the front.

portrait setup using flats


Rudnyk uses a large piece of cloth behind the model as a backdrop. To ensure that the styling on the hair is visible, she uses a bright backdrop. This is important because there’s little light inside the shed. Also, to ensure that the model is well-illuminated, Rudnyk has her seated close to the door. She also uses a reflector to make the face brighter and get a catch light.

natural light portrait setup

To add some excitement to the image, Rudnyk has the model pose with some flowers.

natural light portrait

natural light portrait

Using Film for Portrait Photography

To give a classy touch to the portrait, Rudnyk goes on to photograph the portrait using the Portra 400 color film in her Mamiya 645 camera. As a hack, she uses her digital camera as a light meter to nail the exposure in her film camera.

natural light portrait with film

natural light portrait with film

natural light portrait film and digital

Isn’t it amazing to know that you can take beautiful photos with just natural light? All you need to know is how to make the best of your available resources. If you were under the impression that artificial light is a must for wonderful portraits, take inspiration from this video and give natural light a try.

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:

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Your email address will not be published.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