How to Create Natural Light Beauty Portraits

A lot of times, I think we tend to overcomplicate our setup for beauty portraits. In this video, I’m shooting some natural light beauty portraits with my wife, Alissa. We kept it simple with only a 50mm lens and natural light, and got some really beautiful results.

Equipment Used:

Camera: Canon EOS R5
Lens: Canon 50mm F 1.2 L USM
Light: Natural Light


Photographer: Sal Cincotta 
Model: Alissa Cincotta

What is a beauty portrait?

Traditionally, a beauty portrait (or “beauty shot”) is a close-up portrait cropped so that the focus is on the subject’s face. Beauty portrait styling can range from dramatic hair and makeup to a more natural, fresh-faced look.

In the final images, you’ll see that I played with the crop a little bit, mixing in some 3/4 crop images. Are they “real” beauty portraits? Maybe, maybe not. But hey, rules were made to be broken! 🙂

The best lighting for beauty portraits

For location, I found the absolute softest light available in the apartment we were in. There was a large window with non-direct light (aka, my favorite: open shade), and a white wall that I put Alissa on to really create that super soft, diffused natural light look. 

Pro tip: I always had her look either at camera or towards the window, so that there were no bad shadows across her face. 

Posing for natural light beauty portraits

I think part of making good portraits is constant motion. A lot of times, when we tell our clients to “stand over there,” or “do something over there,” you might not get the results you want, since our clients aren’t supermodels.

I like to walk them through specific motions, step by step. I’m looking for those moments where there’s motion; they’re touching their hair, moving their shirt, looking away, laughing, etc. This helps them loosen up in front of the camera and for beauty portraits, those poses make them look more natural and real vs. fake and awkward. 

As you can see in the video, I’m paying close attention to every detail of the pose before I take a single shot, getting Alissa’s hair, shirt, jewelry, etc. how I want it to look before we get started.

The final images

SOOC (straight out of camera) with no editing

how to create natural light beauty portraits
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/100, ISO 100
beauty portraits how to shoot natural light
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/60, ISO 100
what is a beauty portrait
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/100, ISO 100
how to create natural light beauty portraits 2
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/125, ISO 100
posing tips for natural light beauty portraits
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/250, ISO 100

Which natural light beauty portrait was your favorite?

Let us know in the comments!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Megren Naidoo

    Great Article.

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