3 Tips to Using Window Light

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Updated 6/22/2019

I love window light. If you gave me the option to photograph at golden hour forever, or use window light, I would definitely pick the window light any day! I love the shadows, the catchlights, everything about window light! And hopefully I can convince you that it’s a great way to take pictures.

I wanted to mention that I don’t have a big space or big beautiful windows, yet I’m able to produce some stunning images. You don’t have to have a big beautiful home to get big beautiful images. Take pictures of your life now.

Window light is one of my favorite types of photography lighting.

There’s really so much you can do with just one tiny window.

Have a small apartment but feeling uninspired? Here are tips to photographing in a small space.


All images in this post were taken with my Nikon D610 and the Sigma 24mm 1.4.


3 Tips to Capture Window Light

1. use the window for side light

I love side light. I use it often. It creates shadows on the face that really make the dimension of the face pop. It creates a 3D effect to your images, which is sought-after in the photography world. How you set up side lighting is by having your subject turn 45 degrees away from the window. Sometimes adding in a reflector or another window can help brighten the shadow side of the face some. Even though you are using natural light, you can still control how much light you really want.

I really love the beautiful light that happens when you use side light, it creates such beautiful shadows and light play on your subject.

2. use window light creatively

I love looking for ways that I can get creative light with a window! One of my favorite ways is to get sunflare in my shots. To do this, it has to be a sunny day outside and usually around golden hour that you’ll get the best sunflares.

Pro tip: look for hot spots on your carpet. Position yourself near these hot spots and move your camera around until you can see the sunlight streaming in. Lower your camera or raise it if you need to let in more or less light.

I also recommend shooting sunflares with f/5 or higher to get those nice rays! I also recommend to slightly underexpose your shot just a little.

The Best Photography Lighting: 3 Tips to Capture Window Light

3. look for catchlights in your subjects

Catchlights are a great tool to use when using window light. What are catchlights? They are the little lights you see in your subjects eyes. They give your subject life and makes your images pop just a little more.

Pro tip: Just because there is catchlights, doesn’t necessarily mean the light is good. But as a general rule, I like to look for catchlights in my subjects eyes.

If there aren’t catchlights in the eyes, I usually focus on something else, like the details. If you are looking to get catchlights in your subjects and you’re not seeing them, have your subject look directly toward the light. Playing around with head and eye placement until you see a light in their eyes.



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Written by

I am a photographer, a wife, a sister, and a momma to a sweet boy and a sweet girl. I strive to capture the beauty in ordinary things. I love to photograph people, places, and things that I love and cherish. I am a lover of natural light, macro, lifestyle, and dark and moody images. I love Nikon, I'm not sure you could ever convince me to switch to any other brand! I love to use Lightroom and I love to connect to new people!

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