I'm sure you've heard it time and time again in photography. "Light is everything"
Lighting can make or break an image.
For someone like me I rely on natural light and using natural reflectors.
If you take a look at the photos above you can see a vast difference. Actually now that I think about it they were both taken around the same part of the day. Both were in very bright mid afternoon lighting.
1) The photo on the left was shot in aperture priority, but as you can see I picked a bad place to take the photo. By placing my model in the wrong direction it caused some heavy shadows and even shadow lines all over the place. I was still learning a lot about lighting at that point. I assure you that later on in the session I found better lighting and the photos greatly improved.
But, I will say that early on in your photography learning experience practice and shoot a lot. You'll slowly start seeing as the camera sees. You'll notice places that are too bright, or too dark, or distracting.
2) The photo on the right was taken about a year later. Same model, similar light conditions, but vastly different. Yes it is with a nicer camera and lens, but you can see the technique is very different.
Tip: I discovered that if you are shooting in a bright day or where there are open skies you can use the sky and the ground as a reflector. This means that the sky or ground can send some light back onto your subject.
But how do you get rid of harsh shadows?
Place your subject at the edge of full shadow and have them face towards the sun or bright area. That light will illuminate them and create a soft light on them. This makes their skin soft and puts catch lights in their eyes.
Take note of that. When searching for a portrait photographer always look for the catchlights in the eyes. Not only does it make the subject look alive, but it is a very appealing aspect of a photo. Portraits are generally all about the eyes.
For some photographers they use flash or a reflector to get the same effect. Find out what the best way is for you. In cases where there is no shadow at all and you are in pure sunlight face your subject away from the sun. In this situation you want to use your flash to add some light on their face as it will be in shadow.
Tip: If you're learning photography from time to time pull out older photos you have taken and compare with more recent ones. You'll be amazed at how far you've come. Even if the photos are very similar you'll realize that you "understand" the art of taking photos much better.
Photography is not easy. Every win, is a win!