Life + Style: How Photographers Are Simulating Natural Light with Studio Equipment

by Jacqueline Tobin

December 29, 2015

We pick the lighting brains of Victoria Will and Alexis Cuarezma to discover why a more natural, less artificial look (that actually involves more lighting than one would think) is prevalent these days for commercial shoots.

Photo © Victoria Will

Victoria Will: “My work tends to be on the minimal side, where the images look very natural and real, but that is an aesthetic choice that is project based,” she explains. Take, for instance, her work for Levi’s, where the focus was about having the viewer notice the jeans, or, as Will describes, the energy of the person wearing them. “I am intentionally not making the light a character in the work.” 

Photo © Victoria Will

The images here, she says, were shot in a way that “was made to look like an off moment using ambient light. This particular location lacked the necessary natural light so I had to recreate it. These images were intentionally lit with several lights to mimic the window light.”

Photo © Alexis Cuarezma

Alexis Cuarezma: San Francisco-based photographer Alexis Cuarezma specializes in both on-location and in-studio portraiture. While he’s often asked to create images with visual impact and likes using warm gels and cool tones for a more cinematic, dramatic look, he’s lately being asked to shoot more natural-looking lifestyle portraits.
 
For this image, done for Gifted Nutrition, Cuarezma used four lights. One narrow beam reflector was to the model’s right (camera left) in the corner of the boxing ring lighting the floor. Opposite from her were two umbrellas just outside the ring flooding the scene with light. And right near her (camera right) was a medium softbox to give slight light direction. 

“A lot of companies like a look that mimics social media feeds, and looks more natural while you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook so it can blend in and not look like a heavily produced ad.”

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