Portrait photography is focused on capturing the look and personality of the subject. A key to portrait photography is understanding how to use lighting to achieve the desired look.
Here are some of the lighting patterns that can be achieved by adjusting the position of the main light in multiple light setups:
- This light illuminates half of the face, shadowing the other side.
- This type of lighting gives a slimming effect.
- Place the main light at the side of the subject.
- Level the light with their face.
- Point the light towards their nose.
- This light tends to widen the features of the face.
- This type of lighting is mainly used with a subject who has a thin or narrow face.
- Place the main light on the side of the subject’s face that is turned toward the camera.
- Place the light high enough so that the catch light will be at the one o’clock position. The catch light causes a specular highlight in the subject's eye. The specular highlight is what appears on shiny objects when illuminated. It adds depth to your image. For most military studio work, use the subject’s eyes because illuminating medals will cause loss of the insignia details.
- This is the most common technique used in portrait lighting.
- It is used with average faces, as well as round faces, to make them seem thin or more narrow.
- Place the main light on the side of the subject’s face that is turned away from the camera.
- This technique is characterized by an illuminated triangle on the cheek closest to the camera. The triangle will illuminate just under the eye but not below the nose.
- This is a classic style, but it is not suitable for all faces.
- Accomplish by either using the main light and a reflector or two lights.
- Place the main light high above and angled down onto the subject’s head.
- Place the fill light or reflector level at the subject’s side.