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Indoor Portrait Lighting Basics

Lighting quality can make or break a photograph. Proper lighting not only provides the camera with the necessary visibility to capture a photograph, but can be strategically utilized to portray moods and effects representing a sentiment more profound than the image itself. Photography lighting is an inexact art, lending its eminence to the vision and experience of individual photographers. Here we will examine some common portrait lighting terminology and outline a basic lighting configuration for taking stunning indoor portraits.

A portrait is a visual portrayal of a person, such as a photograph, but also entailing drawings, engravings, paintings and other representations of a person. Most people have had a portrait taken at some point in their lives, whether it was for a school yearbook photo, employee ID or a driver’s license photo.

To start, you will need some type of surface to serve as a backdrop to your portraits. Portrait backgrounds are often comprised of paper or cloth that covers the background of the portrait area and continues onto the floor for continuity. Feel free to be imaginative in determining the type of background you will use for your portraits, bearing in mind that an outrageous or busy backdrop can detract from the person as the focal point of the image.

Once your backdrop is in place, have the person you intend to photograph sit or stand in the position that has been determined for the portrait. Proper lighting adjustment is unique to the sizes of different individuals, which is why your subject should be present before the lighting is put into place. Make sure your subject is comfortable and understands his or her role in the picture taking process, especially if you are photographing a child. The three main lighting sources for the shoot are outlined below:

-Key Lighting: The key light is the main light for the subject. The key light should be located three feet away from and 45 degrees to the camera’s right, and be positioned barely above the height of the subject’s head.

-Fill light: As its name implies, this light fills in shadows appearing on the subject’s face which are caused by the key lighting. For optimal performance, fill lighting typically incorporates a reflective disc or umbrella to soften reflections. The fill light should be positioned about three feet from the subject to the left of the camera and be square with the person’s shoulders.

-Hair Light: The hair light illuminates the subject from above, accentuating hair and visually distinguishing the subject from the backdrop. This light should be suspended approximately 8.5 feet from the floor, slightly behind the subject.

The three lighting techniques above may be combined with the use of a background light, which is a small light placed on the floor behind the subject and aimed at the background, eliminating shadows and adding dimension to the image. Photography lighting is commonly controlled and softened through the use of umbrellas, lighting boxes and domes, and may require a bit of trial and error to obtain images in the quality you prefer.

About the Author

About the Author: John Billington is the president and CEO of Five Rivers Inc., a leading online provider of home lighting, bathroom lighting and decor. For more information, please visit www.fiverivers.com.



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