Useful Photography Tip # 141: Creating Light That Flatters a Portrait Subject

Model: Asta Paredes

Model: Asta Paredes

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Let’s think about the way that we naturally see light in the world: the sun, street lamps, ceiling lights and many more are all above us. So with that in mind, it just makes sense to say that the light that we ordinarily see on a consistent basis is above us, correct?

That’s the basis behind today’s Useful Photography Tip: to get more flattering light on a subject we recommend that you place your light source above your subject but not directly above lest you create shadows under the chin and eyes. Instead, bring it above and to the front to evenly illuminate the person’s features. That means that what you’ll be doing is shooting a photo subject with the light source (like a flash or strobe) behind you, above you, and facing down towards your subject.

If you’re using natural lighting like the sun, then don’t put the sun behind you. Instead, put it behind your subject and spot meter for their eyes. This is called backlighting. In fact, we recommend that any constant light be backlit unless it isn’t very intense on the eyes.

Remember, it’s all based on how we naturally see light when shooting a portrait.