Need a Differentiator? Lighting Can Help Tell Your Story
Friday, July 06, 2018
By Len Marks Photography

The most impactful and dramatic portraits are never solely about the subject. Often drama, personality and vitality is created or illustrated with shadows and light; angles and perspective. A professional photographer must show adequate restraint and training when determining the type of lighting to use to create the desired effect- a story as unique to the subject as his/ her fingerprint.

Lighting For Purposeful Photography

One of the first steps in determining the type of portrait lighting to use begins with a discussion about the intention for the photo shoots. i.e. Is the client looking for a professional headshot, an artistic glamour shot, a creative portfolio piece? Different lighting techniques must be incorporated into the shot to ensure that the portrait is not only relevant but generates the intended interest. Professionals will use light and shadows with deliberate care that comes only with training and experience; knowing that significant shadowing can be dramatic for a dancer’s or actor’s portfolio but may create a negative bias when used in a professional headshot.

Lighting For Subject Vitality

Talented photographers can look at the subject’s eyes and contours of the face and visualize the lighting technique that will work to best capture his or her personality. Appearing lively and authentic creates a more positive and lasting impression than appearing flat, one-dimensional and stiff. Techniques like catchlight add a luminosity and depth to eyes that untrained audiences notice as a “sense” about the subject but have a hard time articulating why that sense exists.

Lighting For Interest and Perspective

Trained portrait photographers can create a story using light, shadow, angles and perspective. A well-constructed photograph can communicate with the viewer about the subject(s) beyond the one-dimensional image. A photographer will choreograph lighting, fixtures, background and secondary objects to develop interest and texture. Shaping light is also a technique educated photographers use to diffuse light in a way that creates a softness to the subject and reduces harsh shadows while still allowing for contouring and depth.

Developing photographic interest using professional lighting techniques results in increased appeal, a sense of understanding and a significant lasting impression. When used correctly, lighting not only supports but enhances the subject’s personal story to their audience. Time to craft your story? Contact us for a portrait photography consult.


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