Make Your Portrait Subject Face the Light Source For More Flattering Light

Working with off-camera lighting is a lot easier than most people think. But one thing that many people don’t understand is a very simple concept about lighting: when shooting portraits, it’s often best to make your subject face the light source to deliver a flattering image. Why?

The answer has to do with wraparound lighting.

chris-gampat-the-phoblographer-facing-the-light-in-a-portrai-2-of-2iso-4001-160-sec-at-f-4-0

At a recent workshop I was teaching I was interacting with the audience to pose Bec above. This is the image I was able to produce when she looked towards the light. The light was inside a seven foot umbrella, so angling her face made the light wrap around her face. What this did is made the lighting output overall just look more flattering.

chris-gampat-the-phoblographer-facing-the-light-in-a-portrai-1-of-2iso-4001-160-sec-at-f-4-0

Then when her face was facing away from the light, it cast a harder shadow across her face. It creates an almost Rembrandt type of light, but isn’t as flattering as the previous image.

Seems very small right? Yes, but it’s very effective.