A Quick Introduction to Backlighting Portraits

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phase One IQ250 more with Nat (1 of 2)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 2.8

Model: Natalie Margiotta

One of the absolute best ways to photograph a person using natural lighting is to backlight them. If the sun is in front of them, then they’re going to need to squint. But if the sun is behind them, then not only is the subject not squinting but they’re also getting a free rim light.

Photographer Mike Brown did a tutorial on this a while back and specifically talks about needing to use exposure compensation or switching to manual mode to do it. You start off by positioning the sun behind your subject to give them a bit more of a glow and then overexposing your scene. Alternatively, if you spot meter with your camera, you won’t have to worry about overexposing the scene overall because the camera will meter for the specific spot.

If you haven’t tried backlighting, we recommend that you give it a shot and see just how beautiful a photo you can create. We’ve got a significantly more in-depth guide here. Typically this is done during the golden hour, but it is also a great way to shoot during the middle of the day.

Mike’s video on backlighting portraits is after the jump.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.