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Available Light Portraiture at the Leica Akademie


On Saturday I attended my second Leica Akademie workshop in London.

As photography is all about light, it’s fitting that my first one was on Mastering Light and this one was on Available Light Portraiture.


When taking portraits, my preference is for the natural look. I don’t claim natural light is better than studio light, it’s just different and fits within my approach to photography.

I use a Leica M. There are no bells and whistles. You, the photographer, are in complete (manual) control of the camera. There is no computer second guessing your intentions.

It takes practice. However, after repeated use, the muscle memory kicks in. It becomes an intuitive and an often quicker way to take photos. It’s certainly more rewarding. Furthermore, if the photo doesn’t come out the way you envisaged, you can only blame yourself and not the camera.

The workshop gave us time with an actor, Harrison Collett, who patiently co-operated with our requests. Here are my two favourite photos from the shoot - taken at the nearby Brown Hart Gardens (a lovely space to relax not far off Oxford Street. It is a raised garden that apparently conceals an electricity sub-station).

The final photo is from a recent shoot with James Dorman, the composer, in a dimly lit recording studio. I have added this for two reasons.

  1. Firstly, even in challenging situations, light can always be found.

  2. Secondly, I didn’t pick this one out from the shoot initially but this was Cat Garcia’s favourite (she led the workshop). She liked the composition and the position of the hands to frame James’ face. Which goes to show, one person’s average photo is another person’s favourite.

If you would like me to take natural portraits of you and your team, then please do get in touch.