Useful Photography Tip #110: Don’t Forget About the Rim/Hair Light

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A99 Studio Samples continued (5 of 9)ISO 100

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The importance of a rim light, also known as a hair light is very overlooked. It can add a lot of extra beauty and a beautiful halo effect to your subject whether it be a person or a product. The reason why it is often overlooked is because we focus on literally what’s right in front of us and not enough on what’s behind our subject.

Photographer Jim Johnson sent this tip into us:

“If you do studio photography, bounce a light off of the ceiling behind your subject. This accomplishes two things. It lights up your background & also gives your subject a nice hair light to boot.

This does not work well with follicle challenged (bald) people. I have a boom to which an older white lightning strobe is attached. It is bounced into white ceiling panels or I could use an umbrella if need be.”

What Jim is saying doesn’t only apply to rim lighting in this case but also the idea of making a background go to a seamless color–as is the case with photographing a subject on a seamless white background and having to crank the light up one stop higher than your key light.

More specifically, a rim light doesn’t always have to be created with artificial lighting. The easiest way to add a rim/hair light is to backlight your subject using the sun. This is where golden hour is usually best because of the nice, warm glow that it can give to hair. If your flash/strobe is capable of overpowering the sun, you can create a very evenly lit image and surround your subject in light.

This tip comes to us from photographer Jim Johnson.