The real challenge with studio portraits is where to position the lights for the most flattering result. Many lighting setups, often termed ‘lighting patterns’, only use a single light, while others use two or more. Different patterns suit different faces, so consider who it is you’re shooting and what the image is for. If you’re taking a headshot, a clean, straightforward lighting style is the way to go. But for artistic black & whites, an edgy setup with shadows looks great. As a general rule, keep the lights around forehead height for women, and about 6in higher for men. In most cases, the light should be around 3ft from the face. Let’s check out five common lighting patterns for portraits. The first three use only one light, and the last two a second light. Experiment with different setups to find the most flattering looks.
This article was first published in the June 2016 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.