Five great tips to help you master portrait lighting and improve your photography

Jun 20, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Five great tips to help you master portrait lighting and improve your photography

Jun 20, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Learning different portrait lighting techniques can seem complicated when you’re just starting out. Because of this, photographer Ed Verosky shares some great advice to help you out. In his video, he gives you five of his top portrait lighting tips.They will help you master the techniques gradually, and become much better in setting up the light for portraits.

YouTube video

1. Start with one light

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of multiple-light setups for portraits, and I’m sure it seems a bit complicated if you’re just learning how to do it. But you don’t have to learn it and do it all at once. Instead, start with one light.  From there, you can build the setup gradually, and add the fill light and the backlight as you learn. After all, sometimes great results are achieved with only one light source.

2. Get the flash off your camera

On-camera flash has its uses, and it’s best to use it with some of the light modifiers. However, to achieve the best results for portraits, you should take that flash off the camera and place it into a position more suitable for portraits.

Ed gives an example of the “45-45” position, where the flash is placed about 45 degrees to one side of the subject and about 45 degrees above the head. Keep in mind that you’ll need something to trigger the flash when it’s off the camera.

3. Use constant light when you can

Sometimes, even if you want to learn the rules of flash photography – you don’t need to use the flash. Instead, use constant light sources like natural light or ambient light. These will give you more natural, real world looking portraits. Also, it’s much easier to see the effects of light in real time, instead of firing the flash and previewing the result on the camera. What’s more, sometimes it’s even better not to use a flash; it all depends on the result you’re trying to get.

4. Use manual camera and flash settings

To take the full control over your photos, you should learn how to use fully manual settings (if you haven’t already). As for the flash, in some cases TTL is a better option. This applies to on-camera flash and event photography.

However, when you’re in a studio, and someone’s sitting and posing for you, you can have more control over light if you switch to manual and set everything yourself.

 5. Keep the light above the subject’s head

The light that comes from below doesn’t really flatter the subject. So, unless you want to achieve the effect of telling scary stories by the campfire, avoid this angle.

Try to keep the lighting at some point above the subjects face, but also – I’d add that you shouldn’t go too far with this angle. If you raise the light too high, it can create some unflattering shadows on the face, like the ones in the midday sun.

There are plenty more tips on portrait lighting you will hear, but I believe these are a couple of those that will help you start and gradually learn how to master the techniques. We have plenty of ideas and advice how to create setups or even lights for portraits, so check them out. And if you have some lighting tips you’d like to share – leave them in the comment section below.

[Top 5 Photography Portrait Lighting Tips | Ed Verosky]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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One response to “Five great tips to help you master portrait lighting and improve your photography”

  1. Stereo Reverb Avatar
    Stereo Reverb

    I cringe when i see anyone using umbrellas in the studio (or anywhere else). Sorry. :/