Did you know that at the beginning of the 20th century, skylights were a common way for photographers to illuminate their subjects? In fact, Greta Garbo's portrait by famed glamour photographer George Hurrell in 1930 was lit exclusively with skylights:
Now, just imagine what you could do with a skylight and a camera today! But of course, while that may be a fun new fact, it's no surprise that light - especially natural daylight - is a powerful tool in photography. Whether you're an amateur shutterbug or portrait photographer to the stars, light isn't something you're going to throw into your space all willy nilly. So, how can a skylight, AKA a window on your roof that lets in a lot of light, benefit a photography studio?
All of the Light with a Lower Electric Bill
Let's start off with the most practical reason for installing a skylight in your photography studio. Whether your studio is home to a full-fledged business or to your fun side-hustle, having all those extra (bright) lights plugged in and pointed at your subject isn't doing anything to help your overhead. With a skylight, you're not only getting more light than can come through normal, vertical windows, you're also getting cleaner light that automatically changes between warm, high contrast and cool, low contrast tones. And you're getting all that without paying for electricity to power it!
In the Right Spot, a Skylight Can Make All the Lighting Difference
Our reasoning for this one is based more on painting studios, but hear us out: for centuries, North Light (or light coming in from the north) has helped produce some of the greatest paintings in history. This is because those artists understood the benefits of painting with North Light in their studios. But the benefits they've found from North Light aren't exclusive to painting - they're applicable to photography too, and a north-facing skylight can help bring in all the North Light you'll need.
North Light is more commonly known as reflected light. This indirect light produces cool and controlled value shifts, basking your subject matter in the same cool atmosphere and giving you far greater control over values, contrasts, and subtle color changes.
On the flip side of this coin, direct sunlight can lend itself to the subject or mood of your art. Think of Impressionists like Monet, Renoir, and Degas and how they could recreate the exact feeling of standing on a sunny beach or waking up to morning light streaming in through the bedroom window by using sunlight as a direct light source.
When you have a consultation about adding a skylight to your studio, a VELUX installer will be able to help you figure out exactly where to place it so you can get the most out of this new light source.
Don't Forget the Blinds
One of the main hesitations when it comes to including a skylight in a photography studio is light control. It's true that a lot of direct sunlight can make your subject matter appear washed out, and it's also true that skylights bring in a lot of direct sunlight during certain times of the day.
Because there are times that call for less light or no light at all, VELUX has a wide range of skylight blinds. From Venetian to light-filtering to blackout blinds, we have just the right blind for the exact amount of light control you need. And with Pick & Click! Brackets, included with most blind options, you can remove and replace your blinds to adjust the lighting in a snap!
So, with a skylight and blinds, you get all the benefits of natural lighting for your subject matter plus complete control over that light source. And, seriously, how many people can say they have control over the sun?
If you're interested in putting a skylight in your photography studio, find your local VELUX installer to get the process started!