Natural Light Fashion / Beauty Photography

Natural light is a popular way for fashion or beauty photography. We explore modern methods of natural light photography
4.2 (124 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a
course's star rating by considering a number of different factors
such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the
likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
4,735 students enrolled
Start Learning Now
  • Lectures 35
  • Length 8.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
Wishlisted Wishlist

How taking a course works


Find online courses made by experts from around the world.


Take your courses with you and learn anywhere, anytime.


Learn and practice real-world skills and achieve your goals.

About This Course

Published 11/2012 English

Course Description

There is something inherently beautiful about natural light. It can be soft and warm, or hard and unforgiving, or even have a sort of melancholy to it. These are the areas we will be looking at in this course.

Fashion and Beauty photography make use of natural light in many ways. A recent viewing of Vogue (October, 2012) reveals many natural light photography shots by up and coming and well established photographers. The techniques are not hard to understand, but still require the finesse and deliberate approach that is required when using artificial lighting.

We will look at natural light from all angles; full sun, modified sun, shade and moody, emotional light.

We will build some inexpensive modifiers for natural light, and also show how to correctly use white reflectors, silver and gold reflectors, scrims, mirrors, and more. These tools are not expensive, but the results they give can be astounding.

The natural light fashion/beauty photography course is divided into 12 lectures, each running approximately 30 minutes. There is a workbook, plans for building a scrim and large reflector, and lots of videos.

Most lectures include a shoot with the gear we are using, a Photoshop tutorial, the PSD file for viewing and a look at how the final images were selected. Looking at the images as they are shot, and then edited, is very powerful as a learning tool.

If you are interested in portraiture, fashion, beauty or glamour, this natural light photography course will open your eyes to the very cool ways you can use natural light to make your images.

The beauty photography course is suited to any level of photographer. I recommend a light meter, although we will also show you ways to use your camera meter as we go. A couple of stands would also be a good addition to your natural light arsenal.

This class also has over two hours of bonus content, with new content being added in May 2013 and June 2013.

What are the requirements?

  • Camera that allows the changing of aperture/shutter speed.
  • Two stands.
  • Two large pieces of white fome core (3x4 or 4x4) - optional 5-In-One Reflector
  • Several small sheets of white boards (fome core)
  • A Five-In-One Reflector with Gold, Silver and Diffuser as well as white.
  • A shower curtain liner (white cloth) from Target, Kohls, Walmart etc...
  • 6 V-Clamps.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • At the end of this course, you should be very comfortable in all kinds of natural light situations.
  • Your fashion and beauty work will see significant improvement.
  • If you have experience in shooting, you will be able to add some additional tools to your arsenal of light.

Who is the target audience?

  • You should be experienced in using your camera.
  • You understand f-stops and shutter speed as it relates to exposure.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction to Natural Light Techniques
Welcome to the Natural Light Fashion & Beauty Workshop
Welcome to the Natural Light Fashion and Beauty Class at udemy.
I am Don Giannatti, your instructor.
Please feel free to ask questions and to be involved as much as you wish with our Flickr forum - only for the photographers taking my classes here at UDEMY.
Natural light can be used in myriad ways, and this show of a few of my images will introduce you to the thinking that goes into making my decisions whether to use or how to use natural light.
I have a full compliment of strobes and tools, but choose natural light when it seems right for me to get the image I want to see.

25 pages
Workbook for the course.

This document is revised when new content is added. I lowered the resolution to allow the document to be smaller to download. If anyone would like the hi-res version, let me know and we will set it up.
Section 2: Tools for Natural Light Fashion and Beauty Photography
The tools we use are as important in natural light photography as they are in studio or flash photography. Each tool does a different thing.

I recommend the following:

Scrim (white shower curtain liner from Target or Kohls, or similar retailer. It is the cloth type with no decorations or imprints. Do not get plastic, many of them have phosphors that can actually turn the light bluish.

Stands - you can never have enough stands. You should also have some reflector booms to hold cards and scrims close to your subject without getting stands in too close.

Sand bags are very important as well.

A Five-in-One Reflector system: Gold / Silver / White / Gold and Silver with a diffuser inside is my first choice, but there are several other types to consider. I like the 43" size, and find that the smaller ones are just too small. There are larger as well, but they can be unwieldy in even a slight breeze. Buy two of the same size/brand when you purchase though. There will be times when you will want to have matching light sources.

White boards - fome core is a great material - to use for bouncing and flagging off the light.

Most of these tools are not expensive.

Section 3: Building Reflectors and Light Panels
4 pages
Smaller, headshot sized scrims can be used in a variety of ways. The same basic construction is used, only the size changes.
Building a Large Scrim (revised)
Section 4: Working in Direct Sun
This video shows how we can find interesting light, even in uninteresting places, and use it to our advantage. From dappled sunlight to all out full sun, there are ways to use natural light to its advantage... and ours.
Post processing the red jeans / garage door in dappled light with Lightroom.
Post Processing Backlight Full Sun Shot in Photoshop
Section 5: Adding Reflectors to Full Sun Natural Light
Working the shot through post-processing.
Using Reflectors in Bright Sun
Section 6: Using a Scrim (Light Panel) in Direct Sun
Using a shower curtain for a scrim in direct sunlight provides a wonderfully soft source. We simply hung it on a rod and let the sunlight blast through it. Actually, the sunlight doesn't come through the scrim, it lights it up. Ivy then reflects this bright light source with her smooth, moderately reflective skin.
Using Photoshop to post process the image we shot.
Section 7: Using Shiny Reflectors
Using a Shiny Gold Reflector for Effect
Post-Process of Gold Reflector / Sun
Post-Processing for a couple of different effects.
I was asked about this single shot we did of Briana to show how the scene looked without any additional light from the gold reflector. I decided to go ahead and process the image to show that it can still be a viable shot.
Section 8: Natural Soft Light in Shade
There are many ways to utilize soft, shade light. We start with no modification, then add some fill cards for opening the shadow side.
A look at how I edit to find the shot I want to use. Looking through the out-takes is as important a learning tool as looking at the best shots.
We chose Lightroom for the post-processing this beauty image.
Section 9: Shadow Edge Light for a Cool Effect
Using the Edge of the Shadow Line for a Fashion Look
Post-Processing the Edge of the Shadow Shot
Section 10: Beauty Shoot with Natural Light
Post processing the headshot.
Using a garage door opening for our light, we created a very nice, beautiful light for headshots.
Section 11: Webinar on Posing / Natural Light
I show a pair of shoots and how I thought about the posing and lighting. We do very minimal post on two of the images we look at here. This is an hour long webinar, and you can see the thought process that goes into making the images.
Section 12: Creating Your Style in Natural Light Fashion and Beauty Photography
Meet Matt Dutile, New York Lifestyle and Travel Photographer.

Matt started out shooting a lot of fashion and lifestyle, but has added travel to his specialties as well. He shoots natural/available light and uses modifiers like scrims and bounce reflectors to change up the available light to meet his needs.

I think you will enjoy this video interview. We go through his portfolio and discuss a great many different things. It is not all about natural light fashion, but I thought you would enjoy the interview for all the discussions of why he chooses natural light to work with.


Section 13: Natural Light Articles
Using a Light Meter to "Place" Exposure
8 pages
5 pages
Article from Lighting Essentials in PDF form for your archives.
5 pages
Article from Lighting Essentials in PDF form for your archives.
10 pages
Article from Lighting Essentials in PDF form for your archives.
3 pages
Article from Lighting Essentials in PDF form for your archives.
Section 14: Bonus Content
You can see the setup and the images from this shoot in the revised workbook. More to come... stay tuned.
Webinar: January 12, 2013
A simple shot of Michelle in open shade. While open shade can be a beautiful light, you must still be very careful and watch how your model works within the light. Reflection of dark areas on skin can create problems where none need be. Enjoy this shot. Taken on a Nikon 1 V1.
Bonus Content: Webinar on May 23, 2013. Lots of good stuff

Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed

  • Loading
  • Loading
  • Loading

Instructor Biography

Don Giannatti, Photographer, Designer, Author and Educator

Don Giannatti has been a photographer for more than four decades. Starting with a desire to do fine art photography, he quickly made the jump into commercial. Over the decades he has owned studios in Phoenix, New York, Chicago and LA. A wide range of clients kept him shooting everything from studio product to fashion, beauty and travel.

With a preference for photographing people and still life, Don feels that lighting is the most important part of the image making process. Understanding the light and how the subject reflects the light helps photographers visualize the image before starting the shoot. This “subject centric” approach to light is what he teaches and is the subject of much of his writing.

He has authored three books for Amherst - all currently available at (keyword Don Giannatti).

Don current maintains a studio in Phoenix, teaches workshops all over the world, and writes for the online Photography magazine, Lighting Essentials (

Ready to start learning?
Start Learning Now