Portrait Lighting Styles


Read Yousef Karsh’s own words about taking this photograph.

Posing your model

Some basic tips for standing poses:

Ask your model to:

1.Shift weight to create contraposto-weight on one leg so the body makes a subtle curve.

2. Lean forward

3. Put their weight on their back leg – shoulder goes back

4. Cross arms

5. Lower chin (push forehead forward)

The single most useful pose suggestion that you can make to your model is to lower their chin. Peter Hurley explains his approach to this in the video below.

Watch .55 to 7.40

The Fill Light

The fill light brightens the shadows. It can be an actual light or you can use a reflector. This video shows how to use a reflector as the fill light.

3-point Lighting

– standard lighting for portraits, video and film

Main light-is the brightest light and creates the shadows

Fill light-brightens the shadows

Background light-creates separation between the subject and the background. This light can be aimed at the background or it can be aimed at the subject. If the later, it would be called a hair light. If accenting the edge of the face or shoulders, this light would be called a rim light or a kicker.


Lab: Adding a fill and background light


HW 7: Environmental Portraits