Sometimes I find myself shooting winter weddings when it is below freezing outside and the bride usually doesn't want to spend more than a few minutes (if anytime at all) outside in the cold. Can't say I blame her. I have studio lights that I bring for this situation to make an ugly or boring church look more interesting, but the first thing I always look for is a large window. I love using a large window for lighting. The light is soft and beautiful, which everyone appreciates when you are taking their portrait. A good lighting principle to know is: "The larger the light source the softer the light." If you can find a large window to use you can create some really beautiful and flattering portraits. Here are some things to remember about using a window as your main light source:
1. Shadows on the Face
Since you are only using one light source you need to make sure you are positioning your subject to match the look you are going for. If you have one side of their face against the window and they are looking straight at you, the other side of their face will most likely be dark = Half their face is lit and the other half is dark. You can move your subject to where the window is more directly in front of them or have them look out the window to create a more balanced lighting situation.
2. Use the Window for all it has to Offer
Sometimes, you may find yourself with only one location to shoot indoors. You have to be able to get as much variety out of that one place as possible. In the photos below you will notice how many different ways you can use a Window as your main light source by moving your subject and moving yourself. Shoot from far back and then move in for a really tight portrait. One of my favorite shots is to have a Bride sit by a large window and shoot from above. You can also play with exposure settings to create a silhouette or blow out the background.
3. Diffuse the Light
If the window you are using has sheer white window curtains you can use it to make the light even softer.
4. Competing Light Sources
If I can, I will turn off or eliminate any competing light sources so I do not have white balance issues.