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4 Secrets to Make Your Portraits Pop

Use these lighting tricks to help give your subject a 3D look
Photo of portraits

If you’re looking for a way to make your portraits stand out from a sea of competition, check out Justin Laurens‘ tutorial below where he shares four secrets on how he makes his photos pop.

“One day everything just sort of clicked, no pun intended,” Laurens says about how he quickly brought his portraits to the next level. “And this brought me back to the basics and in the basics, I discovered the most important key when it comes to making massive improvements in this incredible artform – lighting.”

Is it really that simple? Well, yes and no as he explains in the clip at the bottom of this post.

“In this video I’m going to show you how you can see light differently,” Laurens says. “And how you can use it like an artist and in doing so, it will be a catalyst to help you make massive strides in your portrait photography game. Just as a painter uses paint to create beautiful artistic creations, I’m going to show you how you as a photographer can use light to create more artistic and creative work.”

Here are his four secrets on how to use light to make your portraits pop. Watch below to see how these principles are put into action during a portrait session.


#1 Light Textures & Visual Interest

“Use light as paint,” Laurens explains. “AKA, use light to create beautiful textures and visual interest in your images.”

#2 Use Light to Create “Subject Separation”

“Use light to draw focus to your model, all the while separating them from the background to make them ‘pop’ or stand out more. To do this you simply need to find a location where the foreground is bright and relatively well-lit whereas the background is quite dark and in shadow.”

#3 Boost Depth/Dimensions (Create 3D Look!)

“Use light to create depth on your model’s face, thereby creating a much more 3D looking image overall. This can be achieved using three very easy and inexpensive methods: backlighting, window lighting, and negative fill.”

#4 Low Light/Nighttime Photography

“The absence of light can actually serve as a powerful tool to help you level up your portrait game. This is because of how darkness and shadows, aka the absence of light can help you to boost your photo’s contrast and punchiness.”


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