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The word “photo” means “light” and therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the most crucial aspect in commercial photography is, without a doubt, light!

In fact, light forms the base of any type of photography – of this, our professional photographers are certain. Nonetheless, the one thing that most people are confused about is what’s the difference between natural and artificial light in photography.

There’s also this ongoing debate on which type of lighting is the best – natural or artificial light?

At DW Images, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide explaining the basic differences between natural vs artificial light and how you can make the best of these lighting in your quest for capturing the perfect photos.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Natural Light?

Natural light is the one that’s produced by the moon or the sun and its biggest advantage is that it costs you nothing.

Although you could purchase other equipment like reflectors and diffusers to help you maximise the end result, you can capture stunning photographs with the help of natural light while ensuring you don’t burn a hole in your pocket!

Moreover, natural light is the perfect option to experiment with especially if you’re a beginner. This is because it helps you understand the basic principles of how light works before you take up complex projects that require the use of artificial light.

Sure, a challenge that you’re likely to face with natural light is that it’s quite unpredictable, but it also depends on the time of the day, the location you’re at, the season and of course, the weather.

However, all said and done, the instant change in natural light quality also helps you add a hint of intensity, colour or softness to your images.

What Is Artificial Light?

When it comes to the difference between natural vs artificial light, the latter is anything that excludes natural light.

In fact, artificial light is generated by electric fixtures and is used to maximise the aesthetic effects in your photography studio or the location you’re shooting in. These lighting fixtures also include strobe lights that burst a massive amount of light within a fraction of a second and hot lights that are warm in colour temperature.

Additionally, artificial lighting can be easily controlled when compared to natural light and this is what primarily helps negate the unpredictability of the weather.

Nonetheless, these light fixtures are often used when you’re capturing products from different angles and are on a tight deadline. Since it’s available at any time of the day or night, artificial lighting offers more flexibility.

The downside of this type of lighting though is that it can be quite expensive and requires more time and space; this is off-putting for many photographers.

Click here to learn more about the pros of using artificial lighting.

Natural vs Artificial Light – Which Works for Commercial Photography?

When it comes to the ongoing debate between natural light vs artificial light, there’s no straightforward answer – it completely depends on various factors.

For instance, when deciding which type of lighting would work best for your commercial shoot, you need to take a look at the story and style of the brand and the subject you’re working with.

It’s also best to consider the ongoing photography trends and the type of lighting that’ll help produce “en vogue” photos.

While for some commercial shoots artificial lighting would work best, for others it could be the natural light. Either way, the key here is to determine which kind of lighting is appropriate for your shoot.

Natural vs Artificial Light; interiors of a museum with natural light entering from the top left windows

When to Choose Natural Light?

Here are a few instances when it’s best to go with natural light:

  • If you’re looking for an easy and affordable solution
  • If you don’t mind working with the clock and weather
  • If your subjects aren’t approachable
  • If you prefer shooting on the go and want to travel quickly from one place to another
  • If you don’t want to spend money on expensive equipment

When to Choose Artificial Light?

Here are some instances when artificial lighting might work for you:

  • If you have full control over lighting
  • If you’re capturing easy-to-approach subjects like events and posed portraits
  • If you have the budget to purchase studio equipment
  • If you want to shoot whenever you feel like, regardless of the time or weather
  • If you’re okay to work with external lights

If you’re finding it difficult to come to a decision, then it’s best to seek assistance from a commercial photography company like DW Images. With hands-on experience in commercial and other forms of photography, our team can help you capture the best photographs of your products.

Natural vs Artificial Light – The Final Verdict

As mentioned before, there’s no concrete answer as to which works better and it all depends on your judgement, skills and experience.

However, now that you know the basic difference between natural and artificial light, we hope it helps you proceed with your commercial photography project in the right direction!

Contact DW Images for Commercial Photography Services

If you’re new to the world of photography or are from the eCommerce industry and would like to capture stunning images of your products, DW Images is the right place!

Give us a call on 01908 631037 or fill our contact form here!

artificial lights and indoor plants hanging from the ceiling
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DW Images photography, working with clients across the Midlands and London.  At our Milton Keynes based studio we specialise in product photography for ecommerce retailers. This includes Packshots, 360 Degree, Lifestyle, Ghost Mannequin and Flat Lay Photography.  We also offer corporate headshot photography for your company website meet the team page, and your business social media.

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