Every day I seem to get a mailbox full of magazines. This time of year, there are a lot of lists about the “Best of 2005” including photography books. This one caught my eye simply because of the cover. It’s a book on the work of Richard Avedon. What caught my attention was the natural light studio that is shown in this image.
I’ve always been enthralled with the beauty, quality, and simplicity of the natural light portraits from the late 1800s. Civil War photographer Matthew Brady used to travel with a canvas tent that he would set up and use for natural light portraits. There is something magical about natural light.
My dream is to have a north light studio. Why north light? Because it’s indirect and constant. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. In the winter, it travels to it’s furthest point south, but direct light never comes from the north. The light that comes from the north is a soft indirect light from the north sky and it’s beautiful. You still need to employ the techniques of the craft, such as knowing how to “see” light and use light modifiers. But it’s such an amazingly simple, natural, and beautiful quality of light.
One of these days, my dream is to have a studio once again and a section of it constructed to do natural, north light portraits. I can’t imagine finding a studio like the one shown in Richard Avedon’s photograph, but dreams are what inspire us and motivate us to move through life. Stay tuned!