Portrait Lighting Tips

Portrait Lighting Tips

When taking your classic wedding portraits, there are several things that you will need to think about to ensure that the portrait you’re capturing is a flattering one! The variables that you will need to pay attention to are; the lighting ratio, lighting pattern, facial view, and angle of view. We suggest that you get to know these basics inside out and out, but as with most things, you can break the rules from time to time if you know what you’re doing. If you can nail these qualities when taking wedding portraits, you’ll be well on your way to taking great photos! In this article we’re going to talk about portrait lighting tips. So, what is portrait lighting? Why it’s important? How can you use it to your advantage? These are all things that we’re going to answer for you here at Weddit and our tips will pop up along the way, so stay tuned to read the rest of the post!

First of all, let’s start with the term ‘lighting pattern’. We’d define the term lighting pattern as, how light and shadow play across the face to create different shapes. In photography, there are four common portrait lighting patterns which professional photographers use throughout their work, these are:

• Split lighting

• Loop lighting

• Rembrandt lighting

• Butterfly lighting

Portrait Lighting Tips (N0.1 Split Lighting) - Split lighting is exactly what the name implies. Split lighting divides the frame of the face into two equal halves with one side being in the light and the other half will be in the shadow. It is often used to create dramatic images. You’ve more than likely seen this style of photography on an album somewhere, it should ring a bell, but you can totally use this on a quirky photo shoot for certain couples if they’re up for it! To achieve the style of split lighting, simply put the light source 90 degrees to the left or right of the subject, and maybe slightly behind their head(S). Watch how the light falls on your client’s face and adjust the lighting source accordingly to capture the shot!

Portrait Lighting Tips (N0.2 Loop Lighting) - Loop lighting is made by creating a small shadow of the subject's nose onto their cheek. To create loop lighting, the light source must be slightly higher than eye level and about 30-45 degrees from the camera, although this may vary slightly from person to person. In fact, you can take the fact that each person’s adjustments in accordance to the lighting position may vary for these lighting patterns as a top piece of knowledge from us! This lighting pattern is often used for wedding portraits, which is exactly the reason why we’ve included it in this blog post for you, so why not practise now?

Portrait Lighting Tips (N0.3 Rembrandt Lighting) - Rembrandt lighting is named as, well, ‘Rembrandt lighting’ because Rembrandt (the famous painter) often used this pattern of lighting throughout his paintings and works. Hey, there’s a fun fact for you! Did you know that Rembrandt lighting is actually identified by the triangle of light on the cheek? Unlike loop lighting where the shadow of the nose and cheek do not touch, in Rembrandt lighting they do meet. This creates that little triangle of light in the middle. It’s pretty simple really... But anyhow you can of course use this for a unique effect throughout your images.  

Portrait Lighting Tips (N0.4 Butterfly Lighting) - Butterfly lighting is named after the shadow that looks like a butterfly. This is created under the person’s nose of whom you are shooting, by placing the main light source above and directly behind the camera. The photographer (a.k.a you) will be shooting underneath the light source for this pattern to show up on the screen of your camera. It is most often used for glamour style shots on the cover of magazines as it creates shadows under the cheeks and chin on the face, but this may be a good style in particular for a glamorous wedding shoot with the Bride! Don’t be afraid to experiment with this one for some awesome photo shoot shots! You can run some of these ideas past your clients anyhow when they enquire about booking either a couple or single wedding portrait photo shoot session with you! We recommend that you ask your clients if these styles of imagery are okay before you start rolling with it, but as long as you’re open about the vibe you’re going for and they’re on board with it, there shouldn’t be any problems there!

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Photo + editing credit: All images in this blog post edited by the team here at Weddit and photographed by Lukas Griffin. To get started with our wedding photo editing service, you can create an account here. 

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