A big part of a photographer’s job is shooting portraits, and a lot of the time, the natural light is not favourable. For this reason, you need to learn the techniques which will help you get the best possible conditions for your portrait.
This is something which is going to take time to learn and master; Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all!
Much of this is down to accepting the conditions and manipulating them to create conditions which are much better.
Control the light
What is the light like where you are? How is the room? Perhaps open some windows, perhaps turn on the lights, see how the conditions change. Having said that, mixing different types of light, e.g. natural and artificial, doesn’t always work well. For that reason, you can control each one, but you should stick to one in the end.
Try a 90 degree angle with a light which is high contrast
You don’t need a lot of equipment for this, but the results could be great. Be careful of using a single flash as the angle of the shot might result in being a little damaging to the appearance of the person you’re photographing, e.g. shadows and uneven tone of skin.
Try a 45 degree angle with a light which is low contrast
For this you will need another piece of a equipment, a reflector, and that should be something which is shaped as an umbrella, to capture the light and create a lower contrast overall. This is a softer type of flash, and will be flattering in terms of the result.
Try a 45 degree angle with a light which is high contrast
This is probably something which will require practice, and it can yield some unusual results, but it’s certainly a tact which can be used occasionally. This particular option is a good one if you want to place a certain amount of emphasis on something, e.g. a feature of the person you’re taking the photograph of.
Diffuse the light by using a reflector
Using a reflector means that you soften the light, and this can yield fantastic results, and will mimic the conditions of a cloudy day on an outside shoot.
Try using rim lighting, and place it behind the head
This is another technique to try, and it involved setting up the light behind the head of the person you’re photographing. If you get this right, the effect will look fantastic, but only a very small source of light is needed, otherwise the effect will be far too much and quite unflattering.
Practice really does make perfect, and in terms of getting the conditions right, it’s a case of experimentation. Indoor portrait shots can be quite challenging if you are using a room which is dark, or if you are also using a room which has a mixture of different types of light, e.g. a room with a large window and plenty of natural light spilling in, but dark corners too. In this case, you need to place the subject in the best spot, in order to take advantage of the most flattering source of light for them; it’s also worth mentioning that this is different for every single person too.
Don’t be disheartened if you need to take a few shots using different lighting options, because this is how you will develop overall as a photographer. We mentioned at the start of this chat that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that is certainly the case in this most creative of professions.
The best advice? Find a technique which you can master perfectly, and then tweak it according to the situation you are shooting in. This will breed confidence, and with confidence comes the ability to push your creative boundaries, and test out other different lighting options, which may work fantastically well.
Having first gained his producing knowledge in a classic film production laboratory, Philip Junior takes an active turn in virtually every part of this company.
F. Aldea is definitely a Digital Marketing communications consultant and blog author who loves to explore the hottest trends in business, technological know-how and marketing techniques and creates about a variety of stories.