However good your lighting gear is, natural light will always be better for photography.
1. Background and location
Making good location is important when preparing a shoot. The interesting shapes or elements can frame the subject or the location that frame your subjects or think about a location that contrast or complements them, this will play a huge part in the feel of the image. Try to avoid having too much clutter into the frame, even if you plan to use a shallow depth of field, as it can result in too many distracting elements.
If it’s bright, look for some shade to avoid unflattering shadows as harsh light from the sun in the sky is best avoided, as the deep shadows created across the subject’s face won’t be that flattering. Cloudy, flat days while shunned by landscape photographers are ideal conditions for natural light portraits as the clouds act as a huge diffuser, putting soft light on your subject.
If you’re stuck with bright conditions on the day of the shoot, try to move into the shade, such as under a tree. Alternatively, look to shoot in the shadow of a building to avoid the full-on intensity of the sun. Sometimes this is not possible and you may have to use your own diffuser to soften the light, with dedicated options available or improvised options such as light-translucent sheets. The sun lower in the sky later in the day, think about shooting into the light for a striking contre-jour effect, with a reflector to help balance the exposure.
Whether you need to lighten your subject or simply lift the shadows in your shot, reflectors can be a useful accessory to keep with your camera. They come in a variety of surface colours, but the three most popular are white, silver and gold. The three, white delivers the most subtle results, with silver providing a bit more punch and gold offering a warmer look. A lot of reflectors come with different surfaces on either side, so you can have white and silver, or silver and gold, for instance. It’s a matter of personal choice.
4. Composition and posing
Asking someone to stand in front of the camera can make them feel uncomfortable, so try to bring elements of the background. If your subject has something to hold on to or lean against, you’ll soon find that their poses look a lot more relaxed and natural. Don’t be afraid to direct them, either, telling them how you want them to pose, what you want them to do with their hands, how to angle their head, and in what direction you want their eyes to be looking. You’ll give them confidence, and you’ll get the shots you want.