Three ways to handle lighting in portrait photography:
There are many different ways someone can light a scene, whether that is by painting colors with a brush or by using lighting equipment. The way the setting is lit can change the whole essence of the photo and the story behind it. In my day to day work as a portrait photographer there are three different lighting techniques I use to change the vibe of an image in my portrait photography work. In this article I will go through the three different approaches I use for lighting.
Shadowing the subjects face is an easy way to add another dimension to the image. I use this lighting effect in order to create more variety in the lighting setups I offer my subjects. When you play with shadows on the face it can definitely add a lot more drama to the image as well. You can really let your creativity run wild when creating a darker scene and playing with shadows. This is especially true since you can really play with the shadow density on the face of the subject by changing the distance and angle of the light from the person being photographed. With lighting you have plenty of control over how dark you want the image to be in the end.
This is a relatively new setup I have begun to play with. The idea behind this spawned from the idea of experimenting with different color backgrounds in order to provide clients with more options throughout a photo shoot. This setup can be created with either a physical background (paper, vinyl, canvas) or with lighting. I opted to create this effect with lighting in order to not have to switch out backgrounds every time I wanted to change the color. Also by doing this with lighting, you can really fine tune the color you are going for (I use an Arri Skypanel to create this effect). The most important thing you need to watch out for when lighting a background with some color in it, is to make sure there is no spill onto your subject. This can happen pretty easily if the background light is powerful enough because then it will begin to hit the person being photographed from behind. Experimenting with color backgrounds is a great way to add some new zest to your work.
Flat lighting is where I begin with all of my shoots. I think everyone looks great with this type of lighting and a lot of photographers have coined the phrase “beauty lighting” which is based off of this type of lighting. The idea behind this setup is to create as even lighting as possible and to fill in any shadows on the face with light. There are plenty of other lighting effects you can create with different lighting modifiers and setups but a flat lighting setup is the one I use the most and it always gives great results.
The wonderful thing about lighting is there are no rules. Anything you do when lighting a scene will create some effect, and there is no good or bad in it but the way you choose to light something can change everything. I wish everyone happy lighting and experimenting!