Portrait Lighting Essentials

With these simple lighting techniques, it's possible to master any scene with confidence
Loop lighting example
The art of portrait lighting is the art of bringing out the essence of an individual—identifying the person’s personality and facial features, and coming up with a lighting scheme that will synchronize with them. Many photographers fall into the habit of using a stock setup for all of their work without consideration of the person they’re... Read more

The Mixed Studio

Blending modern LED lights with strobes for unique lighting options
Mixed Studio
This image uses two LED lights and one strobe. An 18” circular flapjack is the main light on the left, with a ring flash as an accent light on right. An Elinchrom ELB 400 strobe using a 30-degree grid lights the blue background. I love my strobes. Watching them pop away during a shoot energizes the set and amplifies my creativity. My obsession with... Read more

Low-Key Black & White Portrait Lighting

How a little light can go a long way to make a dramatic, dark and moody portrait

In a lot of commercial portraiture these days, there’s an emphasis on high-production values. Whether from exotic locations or from using a lot of lights, it seems the conventional wisdom is generally “more is better.” But, in fact, when trying to create a moody, dramatic or intimate black-and-white portrait, sometimes less actually is more. With... Read more

Mastering Soft Light Photography

Little differences between light modifiers make for big changes in the look of a light

Any discussion of soft lighting tools begins with two classic modifiers: the softbox and the umbrella. From each of these devices has sprung a world of variations—so many that it can be difficult to know why to choose one modifier over another. Soft is a relative term, after all, and the little differences between modifiers produce subtle, but important,... Read more

Small Lights Big Effects

Get the most out of small strobes for big lighting effects when you need to work fast on location and don’t want to sacrifice an ounce of lighting control and quality

I’ve had my share of 90-second portrait sessions with important people who are short on time, and the ability to set up refined three-point lighting in no time flat can be the difference between getting the shot and going home with nothing. Photographer Corey Woodruff, a small-strobe specialist, once drove seven hours round-trip to shoot for three... Read more

Simplify Your Lighting

Less is often more when it comes to crafting beautiful illumination

I recently received a call from a commercial photographer who was to visit my city on assignment. Along with recommendations for assistants, digital techs and hairstylists, he also inquired about renting a basic lighting setup. "Only four or five packs," he said, "and maybe just eight or 10 heads." He would be bringing some more... Read more

Mastering Photography Lighting Angles

Understanding a few simple techniques will take your images to the next level
Most professionals are well versed in lighting techniques for their particular subject matter. Food photographers know how to light food. Jewelry photographers know how to light jewelry; wedding photographers know how to light brides. We’re presenting the following excerpt from Light: Science & Magic by Hunter, Biver and Fuqua (Focal Press) because... Read more

Four Hot Lighting Looks

Everyone is looking for a way to make his or her images stand out from the crowd.

Everyone is looking for a way to make his or her images stand out from the crowd. Today, when the crowd is huge and websites are selling decent-quality amateur work for $1, that crowd is bigger than ever before. Innovation in lighting is at the core of being a professional photographer, and creating today’s hottest, most in-demand looks is something... Read more

The Balancing Act Of Flash On Location

As professional photographers let go of their expensive studio spaces and make the world their studio, it’s time to examine the needs of a photographer on the go.

As professional photographers let go of their expensive studio spaces and make the world their studio, it’s time to examine the needs of a photographer on the go. When studios were the norm, most pros had a space where they’d keep a number of power packs, stands, heads and all manner of modifiers. Today, we’re all working meaner and leaner, and... Read more
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