Portrait Lighting Techniques: Character Portrait


The starting point for any portrait is evaluating your subject’s clothing and purpose of the portrait. For instance, this subject is in need of a headshot to submit to agencies for acting. I decided to light the subject with five lights to help separate him from the background, yet keep it simple enough that it doesn’t distract from the subject’s face. The challenge when using a black background and having your subject in black clothing is to make sure that you rim light the subject enough so that he or she doesn’t blend in with the background.


Step One

schmelzer_portrait_character_1We start by placing the hair light above and behind the subject. We used a Westcott medium Strip Bank without the fabric grid so the light spreads normally. It’s positioned to light the top and side of the hat, opposite the position of the main light.

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