We all make mistakes in photography. All of us. But these are things which help us learn and grow as photographers. We make mistakes, we figure out what went wrong, we correct it and then don’t make that mistake again. Thanks to the modern Internet, though, we can learn from the mistakes of others, too.
In this video, photography Antti Karppinen talks us through 7 of the most common lighting mistakes photographers make shooting portraits in the studio. But he’s also going to show us how we can avoid them, too.
So, let’s have a look at this list with timestamps for handy reference.
- 1:14 – Main light too low (in height, not brightness)
- 2:45 – Main light too high
- 3:36 – Fill light in the wrong position & power level
- 5:19 – “Nose light” separation too far forward toward the subject
- 6:40 – Overexposed separation (rim light)
- 7:44 – Backlight flaring into the camera
- 9:13 – Background light too bright
At some point or another in the course of my photography, I’ve been guilty of all of these. As have most portrait photographers I know. They might not have done it for a few years, but when starting out, absolutely. It’s all part of the learning process. And I think when you’re learning, even if you know of these mistakes I think it’s good to intentionally make them sometimes and see exactly how it affects the shot first-hand.
That way, when you do fix it and shoot it the way you intended, you’ll know exactly how and why the issue appeared. And you’ll also have a bit more experience to be able to figure out when you want to “break the rules” and intentionally make these mistakes for creative effect. I know I’ve certainly done that with the whole “backlight flaring into the camera” thing before now. It worked particularly well with a CTO gel over it, too. Or at least, it gave me the result I wanted.
So, when you’re shooting portraits with flash, and you see these issues popping up, now you’ll know how to fix them.