Instructions for using light in portrait photography

June 1, 2020

Light is the basis of photography, so when shooting portraits, it is important not only to understand how it works, but also to be able to manipulate it to create the right mood and atmosphere in the picture. We don’t have time for physics lessons, but we will try to give you some tips and advice on how to approach the lighting of the subject when you photograph a portrait. You can use it more efficiently.

 

What do you want to achieve?
The first step is to find out what you want to achieve in your picture. This is important, because only in this way you can determine what methods you need to use in order to get the intended frames. Try collecting some sample images that you would like to emulate. And then take some time to review them and study the nature of the lighting.


Pay attention to whether it is natural or studio light. If the second, then in what quantity and at what angle respect to the object was it used? Such an analysis will help you determine what is necessary for your own work and will give you a much greater chance of obtaining the desired result.

 

Natural light
Using daylight can be a very good option to achieve a more subtle, clear, and natural look for your portraits. Many professional photographers like to use the light from the window for portraiture. Using this method, you can control the amount of light using blinds or curtains, as well as change the range and angle of inclination depending on the configuration of the window.


When working outdoors, you must be careful to choose the right time of day for shooting. It is preferable to avoid periods when the sun is high in the sky. Then the light works too brightly and sharply. It’s better to choose the time in the early morning or late in the evening, when the light fades and becomes warmer. This will allow you to avoid excessive exposure and strong contrasts.
If necessary, when working with natural light, you can use a direct light reflector. This will allow you to avoid the shadow on the face, as you can direct light reflected from the corner onto it.

 

Studio light
The use of studio lighting should not be a complex science. For some photographers who have always shot in daylight, this may seem like a daunting prospect. But it should be noted that the use of studio installations for lighting provides a lot of advantages. Therefore, it is advisable to take some time to familiarize yourself with the wisdom of artificial light. It's worth it.
 The main advantage of studio lighting is that you can control the light, its strength and the angle at which it is directed towards your subject. This opens up a sea of ​​creative possibilities that are not available using natural light.


For starters, you can take one source of constant artificial light. Experiment with its placement relative to the subject and see how it affects your shots. You can still achieve pretty natural looking frames, since you only have one light source, just like in sunlight. Only now you have more control and this is an obvious advantage.

 

Good and bad shadows
When using powerful light sources, shading can easily occur on walls and ceilings. This is not always bad. This can be done intentionally to be used in the frame. But they can also add excessive gloom to your picture. As a rule, if you do not plan the shadows, then their random appearance will not work in a good way in the frame. So just make sure that you do not create them.

 

Eye contact
One of the golden rules of portrait photography is to make sure you have eye contact with the camera and photographer. Of course, there are very successful exceptions to the rules, but this is more luck. And in order to create a strong connection between the viewer and the object, you must make sure that at least one eye of the person being photographed is visible in the frame. In general, try not to hide your eyes or look down. But this does not mean that you need to look continuously at the camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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