Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lighting For Success

Three simple, classic portrait lighting setups that will generate income
Text & Photography By Tom Bol Published in Shooting
Lighting For Success
Beauty shots are characterized by big, soft lights that create flattering skin tones and reduce any skin imperfections. Beauty shots can be done with one big umbrella placed above your subject and a white reflector placed directly below them to fill in shadows under the chin. White seamless backgrounds work great. Also, styling and makeup are important for these images, so you might consider hiring a makeup artist for your portrait package.

My favorite lighting setup for beauty is clamshell lighting. This setup uses two large light sources, one above and one below your subject, with you shooting through the narrow gap between the lights. If you use your imagination, the two lights look like a big open clam (thus, the name "clamshell").

Start by determining the exposure for your main light. Place this in front of and slightly above your subject. Don't place it too high, or you'll create shadows around your subject's eyes.

Next, set up your second light in front of and slightly below your subject. This light is aimed upward at your subject to fill in shadows and even out skin tones. The important thing to remember is this light should be slightly lower in power than your overhead main light (strong light from below isn't a good idea). I love the eye catchlights using this technique—people just look good!

Another variation on beauty lighting is butterfly lighting. Using a large soft source just to the side and slightly above your subject, a faint butterfly shadow is created under the nose. This lighting works especially well for beauty images when you use a white reflector to bounce light back onto your subject from the main light.

Okay, you have your gear, studio space and these techniques. Time to get to work. Practice the lighting techniques mentioned above and master them completely. You're ready to go. Next up is finding those clients. Show me the money!

To see more of Tom Bol's photography, visit his website at

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