Light, thats pretty much all that photography is about, right? Well maybe not everything, but it certainly is damn important. So important that its quite worthwhile to learn how to use and control it. This is why today I’ll be showing you some of my favorite lighting styles and setups, most of which are pretty easy to build.
Starting with the one thats used in the image above. Here I used only one light in a giant reflective umbrella. Because of the reflective coating it’s quite power effective and you don’t need a lot of flash power to light a portraiture session. The light stays very rich on contrast while the size of the large umbrella gives nice fill and wraps your subject in light. All in all I can only recommend you to try it out, umbrellas are available for cheap and are pretty easy to handle, only thing you need to watch out for is to be in a large enough location to actually be able to extend it fully. (to be specific, I am talking about umbrellas with a width of 180cm or more!)
And on to the next one we go! Again, only one light was used, a studioflash with a compact softbox on it, in a 45 degree angle straight from above. Only thing added is a silver reflector from underneath to lighten up shadows. “But there are still shadows?” you ask? Thats right, because a reflector will never be brighter or even as bright as the original light source, so we got more light coming from above than from underneath, which gives us a nice contrast and especially features lovely stuff like cheekbones. A pretty simple light setup with very much bang for the buck!
Another one! This time we’re going in a little bit more complicated, but bare with me, it’s not that hard. I especially like this setup for beauty or close up portrait shoots. You’re going to need a few more lights now, but nothing that is not manageable. Here we have a beauty-dish above the camera, a large softbox on one side and some flags or a reflector on the other side. Variation and experimentation is encouraged. If you don’t have this many lights lying around or don’t have the space to set them all up then you should look into renting a professional studio for a day. There are often various options from cheap to damn expensive, check what is in your budget limits and go for it!
And last but not least one of my personal favorites: pure good old natural light. That’s right! No artificial light sources, just the sun floating around somewhere! Timing is crucial with this, since sunlight can look from fucking amazing to simply horrible! I prefer the warm evening sun, just before it is about to set. Warm, soft and smooth as hell. By the way natural light can work indoor just as well as outdoor! Just set your session up near a window with the light coming in. No distracting flashes, just your camera and the shutter-clicks. Quite convenient also that you often have to open up the aperture and get some smooth blurry backgrounds!
Outdoor will work just as well and you can often get away with placing your model directly in the remaining sunlight, it will still be soft enough!
So, those are my favorite lighting setups and conditions, feel free to try them out and experiment with them. And always remember, don’t forget do your own thing and find your own style!