How to do Photography at Window Light

Author: ashley avila photography

Expert photographers love doing photography in window light. They are masters of exploiting the versatility that the natural light source offers. Problems like harsh shadows and weird skin tones that other people encounter when doing indoor photography are unknown to them.

In other words, these people know how to do photography at window light. That is why we asked them for tips using which newbie and amateur photographers can also create flattering photos in natural light. Here is the best of what they told us.

Before you do photography in window light

Here’s what you need to know:

All windows aren’t created equal

Windows facing south or north have consistent sunlight streaming in through them throughout the day. Their indoors aren’t more illuminated in the evenings or mornings. The evenness of the light coming in through such windows makes it the best bet for creating simple-looking images.

In contrast, windows that are facing east or west don’t let in even lighting throughout the day. They’d welcome more light in the morning if they are facing east, or they’d receive less lighting at the same time if they’re facing west direction.

That is why we recommend that you use such windows to create dramatic images. The inconsistency of the light streaming through the windows will enhance the contrast of the pictures taken in their light, thereby making the photos more appealing to the onlooker.

Click WCMA Window & Door to find find a beautiful window ideas

Difference between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ light

Common sense tells us that the larger the window the more light it will let in. What it doesn’t tell us, unfortunately, is that the size of the window also has an important bearing on the ‘softness’ or ‘hardness’ of the light coming through it. Let us explain this point.

The larger the window, the softer the light streaming through it. That is because bigger windows give the light a wider angle from which it falls on the target object. Soft light is less likely to create shadows. You should keep this point in mind if you intend to take images without deep shadows.

Provided you want to capture the emotions of the person in the photograph, best do it in a light coming in from a small window (and in the afternoon). Doing so will give you access to hard lighting, which has long and deep shadows and brilliantly emphasizes differences between bright and dark areas.

Natural light hates artificial light

That happens because the color of light is different based on the source it is coming from. While natural light burns brighter in the noon and less effusively during the early mornings and later afternoons, the color of the artificial light stays the same regardless of the time of the day.

Provided you choose to disregard this point while taking the photograph of a human being – and mix up artificial light with natural light, the skin tones in the final image might look odd. Hence why we recommend that you turn off electric lights before taking the image.

How to do photography at window light

Follow these tips to come up do photography at window light:

Tip #1: Position your subject strategically

The placement of the subject relative to the window will have a huge impact on the quality of the photograph. You can place the subject close to the window (if you want more contrast) or away from the window (if you want more even look).

Similarly, while placing the subject with one of their sides facing the window will cause a dramatic fall in light on their other side. Placing them behind the window will bless your photograph with a dramatic silhouette. Try experimenting with different positions to find the best one for your needs.

Tip #2: Control the window light

Depending on the direction of the window, the light might be too much (for east- and west-facing windows) or too little (for south- and north-facing windows) for the final photograph. You should, therefore, have window panes or blinds to control the window light.

Apart from increasing the intensity of the light or dimming it, these tools will also create interesting light patterns of their own which you can exploit in your image. The fascinating lines, shapes and contours that they’ll create will give your photograph an added feel.

Tip #3: Take photographs in ‘Aperture Priority’ mode

Since you’re going to do photography in indoor natural light, you’d ideally want as much light in the photograph as possible. That would only be possible if you have a wide open aperture. And that, in turn, will only be on offer in the ‘Aperture Priority’ mode. Here is why.

This mode lets you choose the aperture based on your needs. You can, therefore, select a wide aperture, make your depth of field more shallow and turn the background of the subject soft and blurry. Doing that will add a beautiful effect to your product shot.

Tip #4: Get your camera out of ‘Auto White Balance’ mode

You can easily do that by clicking on a button marked with a WB sign. It will be somewhere on the back side of the camera. Consult the instruction manual of the camera if you can’t find the button there. But don’t let the camera remain in AWB mode. Here’s why we’re saying that.

Most of today’s digital cameras offer at least two ‘White Balance’ modes. The first of them, termed ‘Daylight,’ gives results that aren’t too yellow or too blue. The ‘Cloudy’ mode, meanwhile, warms things up a little by adding more yellowness to the image.


The implication of whatever we have said till now is that, when doing photography at window light, one doesn’t need to be an expert to take a flawless photograph. Simple looking things like the correct positioning of the subject, taking the camera out of AWB mode and turning off artificial lights might help you capture the image you’ve always wanted to.