It’s not uncommon for photographers to avoid using a flash when shooting outdoors. Sometimes that’s because they prefer the look of ambient light images, while other times it’ a matter of not understanding how to properly employ supplemental light.
While on-camera flash is much easier to use than many photographers realize, and can be particularly helpful when shooting after dark, it is possible to make beautiful nighttime portraits on the street with nothing but your camera and a pretty model or two.
The trick involves choosing the right location, and using neon signs, brightly lit billboards, or street lamps to illuminate your model, while paying careful attention to exposure settings and proper metering techniques. In the video below from Weekly Imogen, you’ll follow photographer Mark Wilkinson and a couple pretty models to see how it’s done.
Wilkinson chose London’s Piccadilly Circus as the location for his shoot. It’s a perfect spot for this type of photography because, much like New York’s Times Square, the streets are festooned with bright, colorful lights. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a portable, mobile lighting system that can deliver his compelling images.
One tip for achieving optimum results is to thoughtfully position your subject so that streetlights illuminate the scene in the best possible way. Wilkinson explains how to do this while demonstrating a variety of flattering poses.
Other tricks involve photographing your model in front of a softly lit store window, employing a string of LED lights to create a unique effect, and making sure the scene in the background enhances the image rather than just going black. Wilkinson also demonstrates how to use interesting reflections and much more.
So take a close look and learn how you can make unique nighttime portraits without any special gear. Then head over to the Weekly Imogen YouTube channel for more portrait photography tips.
And be sure to check out another helpful tutorial we posted, explaining how to choose the optimum focus points for portraits, landscape photos, and more.