5 Lighting Setups for Portrait Photography

Model is posing for photo shoot

As with any art form, every photographer remembers the moment they were hooked for life. At that moment, they likely captured a beautiful image and found themselves wanting to chase that high over and over again. Master Lighting Setups for Portrait Photography.

So many factors go into capturing great photos, one of the most important being lighting. There are so many ways studio lights achieve a variety of effects, and every good photographer should be aware of them. But every great photographer should use lighting to find new ways to elevate their technique.

Rembrandt Lighting

Rembrandt Lighting Setups for Portrait Photography

This style of studio lighting, famed for its appearance in many paintings. It is achieved by placing one light at a 45-degree angle, 5 feet away from the subject being photographed. This style of portrait light is characterized as dramatic, yet natural. The one disadvantage of this portrait lighting setup is that it can make the nose, eyebrows, and other features look bigger. Which is not always desired by portrait subjects. 

Split Lighting

Like Rembrandt Lighting, Split Lighting uses only one light source. However, instead of at a 45-degree angle, the subject is lit directly from the side, casting a shadow on half of their face. This photography lighting style is incredibly moody.

Broad Lighting

Broad Lighting Setups for Portrait Photography

This portrait lighting puts more emphasis on the portion of your subject’s face angled at the camera. The light source is then reflected onto the other side of the face, creating some shadow.

Butterfly Lighting

This studio lights setup, also known as Paramount Lighting. It can be achieved by placing the light slightly above your subject, which causes the nose to cast a small shadow above the lips, resembling a butterfly. This style of lighting is especially flattering on those with more feminine features. 

3 Point Lighting

One of the most popular lighting setups for portraits as well as filming. This studio light setup requires a fill light, a backlight, and a key light. By lighting the subject from three lighting sources, you can achieve a warm effect even when natural lights are not available.

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