An In-Depth Guide to Lighting People

Bridging the gap between photography and cinematography is the heart of truly good visual filmmaking. Here’s a tutorial about how to build your portrait lighting capabilities by Simon Bray

What Do You Want To Achieve?

The first thing to establish is what you want to achieve in your shoot as it’s important you know what techniques you need to employ in order to get the shots you want. Try gathering up a selection of images that you’d like to emulate and spend some time considering how those shots were lit.

Do they use natural light or studio lights, if so, how many and at what angles were they facing the subject? This will help you appreciate what is required for your own work and give you a far better chance of getting the results you want.

Natural Light

Utilizing natural light can be a very good option for achieving a more subtle and well, natural look to your portraits. One of my favorite natural light portrait techniques is to have the subject stand by a window and use the light coming in. You can control the amount of light by using blinds or curtains and also vary the proximity and angle of the subject to the window.

When working outdoors, you need to be careful that you pick the right time of day for your shoot as you want to avoid periods where the sun is high in the sky and the light is too bright and harsh to work with. Pick a time like early morning or later in the evening when the light will be warmer and not so bright and this will allow you to avoid over exposure and strong contrasts.

If need be, when working with natural light you can use a reflector to direct light. It will enable you to avoid having the subject facing the sun as you can bounce light from an angle onto their face.

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