13 Tutorials On Different Lighting Techniques For Portrait Photography


Great portraits are a result of using light in the best way possible to get the desired results. To capture flattering portraits, the photographer needs to have a good understanding of light and lighting techniques for portraits. Natural light and artificial light can be used for portraits and artificial light used in a studio can be manipulated in many ways to create different types of lighting techniques that will help with various resulting effects in portraits and in this article we share 13 tutorials on different lighting and lighting techniques for portrait photography.

1. Soft Light In Portrait Photography

When capturing portraits, the kind of lighting and how you position it can greatly affect the look and quality of the resulting images. For standard portraits, we usually want to use soft light and this tutorial by Digital Photo Secrets provides tips and tricks to using soft light both indoors and outdoors.

2. How To Use Hard Light In Photography

Hard light is something that if used well can help to capture dramatic photos. Many photographers make use of hard light to add a different mood to the images and to make them stand out. This tutorial by The Phoblographer explains how to use hard lighting for photography.

great postures for portraits
Photo by Farol 106

3. The Power Of Diffused Light For Portraits

Learning to diffuse light perfectly and then using it for portraits can be one of the best skills that photographers can master to capture flattering portraits. This excellent video tutorial by Daniel Norton with Adorama TV shows how to use different variations of diffused light for more flattering portraits.

tutorial lighting techniques portrait
Photo by Prince Akachi

4. What Is Side Lighting In Photography – Portrait Lighting Tips

With the wrong lighting technique, images can look two-dimensional or flat with no depth. Side lighting is a simple lighting technique that will help to add dimension to portraits and any other genre of photography and this tutorial by Studio Binder teaches what side lighting is and how you can create it.

natural lighting for portraits
Photo by Zohre Nemati

5. Guide To Backlighting In Photography

When lighting a subject from directly behind or from a slight angle, it is called backlighting and a lot of different effects can be achieved using the backlighting technique. This tutorial by Shotkit will explain how to use the backlighting technique and why it is used.

outdoor portrait
Photo by Sonnie Hiles

6. Rim Light – The Simple Lighting Technique Behind Dramatic Photos

The rim light is another backlighting technique and can be used as a single source for dramatic portraits or can be used in conjunction with other lighting techniques to get a subtle rim effect. Rim light helps bring an image to life and this tutorial by The Lens Lounge discusses this simple lighting technique that can be used to capture dramatic portraits.

7. Broad Lighting: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Broad lighting for portraits can be confusing for many photographers, but if you get past the misconceptions, then you can work with it to capture interesting portraits. This tutorial from Photo Workout discusses all broad lighting and how you can use it for the best possible results.

8. Short Lighting: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Short lighting can be thought of as the opposite of broad lighting and it also depends on the position and angle of the camera to the subject. So we thought we will provide another tutorial from Photo Workout itself, so you can understand and compare the ideas behind broad and short lighting. This tutorial will show you how you can use short lighting for gorgeous, dramatic portraits with a single light source.

9. Flat Lighting Tips For Perfect Portraits

Transforming the look of portraits can be as simple as adjusting the intensity or angle of light that is being used. Flat lighting although not always used for portraits is a great one to capture soft and beautiful portraits and this video tutorial by SLR Lounge demonstrates how flat lighting is set up and how it can impact a scene.

soft natural light portrait
Photo by Victoria Volkova

10. What Is Split Lighting Technique And How To Use It In Portrait Photography?

Among the many lighting setups for portrait photography, there are some that make use of just one light source to capture creative portraits. One such lighting technique is split lighting and this tutorial from Bidun Art discusses what split lighting setup is and how photographers can use it for creating artistic and dramatic portraits.

shadows and highlights portraiture
Photo by tatii_munive

11. How To Use Butterfly Lighting For Beautiful Portraits

One of the best lighting setups for portrait photography is butterfly lighting as it is easy to set up and will help get flattering results. This tutorial from Expert Photography talks about the basics, equipment, and setup for butterfly lighting.

tutorial lighting techniques portrait
Photo by Pooja Roy

12. Loop Lighting: A Lighting Pattern Every Photographer Should Know

Lighting for studio photography is not so complicated like you imagine because you can create interesting lighting patterns with just one light source and a little knowledge of how light works. Loop lighting is one such lighting technique. This tutorial from Cole’s Classroom will teach you what loop lighting is, when to use it and how to set it up.

flattering light for portraits
Photo by Aiony Haust

13. What Is Rembrandt Lighting And How To Use It In Your Photography

Rembrandt lighting can be used to create a dramatic and moody feel to portrait images and it is not too difficult to set up. This lighting setup can be achieved with lights that you already have in hand. This tutorial from Photo Blog will help you learn how to set up Rembrandt lighting and use that to capture awesome portraits.

black and white classic portrait
Photo by Janko Ferlič

Further Resources:

About Author

Dahlia is a stock photographer and full time educator at Light Stalking. You can find her on Gurushots and see some of her more popular articles at The American Society of Media Photographers. Get to know her better here.

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