Five portrait lighting patterns you need to learn

Mar 29, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Five portrait lighting patterns you need to learn

Mar 29, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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It seems that there are always things we “need” to learn when it comes to shooting certain genres of photography. And while many of them for a lot of genres do boil down to personal taste, when it comes to portraits, there are some things that you need to know and understand, like lighting techniques – even if you don’t use all of them all of the time.

In this video, photographer Hannah Couzens shows us five different popular portrait lighting styles that every portrait photographer should really know and understand. She also demonstrates them using both hard and soft light, so that you can see how the light actually hits the subject and how to make it more visually pleasing.

Even if you don’t use these lighting setups exactly as shown in the video, they serve as great examples on which to base a lighting scheme for your subject. Even if you’re on location working with natural light, many of these looks can still be achieved using windows, open shade, or other available light sources. And if you’re mixing flash and ambient together, they can produce some fantastic looks.

But, you need to know the basics to build on them, and that’s where Hannah’s video comes in.

Personally, I’m quite partial to short lighting. I love the drama of it. But I use all of these and more from time to time when it suits the subject and theme of the shoot. Which of these five lighting styles do you use the most for portraits?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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