Portraiture Lighting Techniques

Often I receive emails from photographers asking about portraiture lighting techniques especially from celebrity portrait sittings. I have put together a simple helpful guide to portraiture with equipment recommendations, lighting diagrams and the kit used for each setup.

 

Choosing the right equipment for your photoshoots can make your life much easier. For myself portability is key, with more than half of my Portrait Sittings taking place on location, at clients offices or in their homes. Collapsable and easy to carry equipment is essential for my work. Lastolite supply a wonderful selection of Collapsable/Reversible Backdrops. For the portrait photographer on the move they are an ideal solution, folding down to a manageable size.

Sir Patrick Stewart Rory Lewis

Looking at Lenses I prefer fixed prime’s for all my portraiture. Prime Lenses for DSLR Camera’s are highly affordable, at the beginning of my career I started with a 50mm F1.8 Nikon Lens. Costing just over £100 you can create wonderful results, canon’s equivalent 50mm F1.8 Canon Lens is only £99.89. Nowadays I shoot Medium Format, opting for the Mamiya 80mm f/2.8 D or the Hasselblad 100mm F2.2

 

Lighting wise you have many options from Bowens, to Neewer, Elinchrom, Lastolite and Profoto. I myself prefer Profoto for their durability; as a professional photographer on the move, I have found the more lower end lighting less durable, needing regular repairs and maintenance.

 

A good light meter is essential, you will be surprised, I have taught a great deal of budding photographers in my workshops, and many have never used a light meter. I recommend the Sekonic L-308S, its simple to use and will ensure accuracy in your metering.

 

For beginner portrait photographers learning a simple one light setup is essential. Rembrandt lighting can help you achieve professional quality portraits with a minimal amount of equipment. Named for the artist Rembrandt who used the lighting method in his paintings, Rembrandt lighting is a style of studio lighting in which the subjects face is well lit on one side with only a small triangle of light appearing on the opposite cheek, as you can see in the photograph below.

Portrait Lighting Diagrams One Light Setup Rory Lewis Photographer

Camera Settings F6.3, ISO 100

Equipment List


 

Creating dramatic portraits can be achieved with the below two light setup, I prefer silver or Deep Silver Umbrella’s for their sharpness. Using a Black Foam/Poly Board to add contrast and help sculpt the detail and character of the face.

Celebrity Portrait Lighting Setup Patrick Stewart Rory Lewis Photographer

Camera Settings F7.1, ISO 200

Equipment List



 

Making an adjustment to the above setup, you can backlight your subject separating them form the backdrop. Using lastolite’s Wyoming backdrop really makes the subject stand out.

Celebrity Portrait Lighting Setup Patrick Stewart Rory Lewis Photographer

Camera Settings F6.3, ISO 200

Equipment List


 


I hope these setups, help you to create some wonderful portraiture. If you are interested in my workshops, I have a full programme of Portraiture Workshops throughout 2015. All courses are practical tuition sessions giving you plenty of time to learn hands on the skills taught. Enabling you to work with professional models on the day and capture amazing photography for your portfolio.

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