Portrait photography is “clicking the person not the pictures of the person”. Portrait photographs should have full of life in them, i.e. it should be natural. You should not pose for a portrait photograph. Portrait photographs highlight the facial expressions of models.
So, lighting is very important for warmer skin tones of the model and to highlight the face for facial expressions [Photography lighting techniques].
There are two types of lightings to consider in photographs:
- Natural lighting
- Artificial lighting
Natural lighting for portrait pictures:
Many think that natural lighting is only available for shooting outdoors.But you can divert the outdoor lighting to indoor with the means of window and light reflectors.
Providing lighting indoors with the means of a window is an easy way of proving light indoors without any artificial set up.
When shooting outdoors, it’s advised by experts to have a photo shoot between 4-6 pm or if you are inside, you can try window portrait pictures at mid-evening or mornings. Photos shot in natural light yield beautiful results [Perfect light source for good clarity].
When you are having a portrait photo shoot with children or pets, take them out in the evening time when the sunlight is soft and dull. Let them play around and click the images with natural expressions and compositions. You cannot get this type of shot in an artificial lighting studio setup. The lighting and the expressions in the outdoors are superlative when compared with studio setup.
Bridal portraits are great if clicked in this period of time. The soft light in the last hours of sunset is great and the skin tones of the brides often bloom. If you are a wedding photographer and want to yield success in bride portraits, you have to make the bride stand in halo or rim lighting with sunlight passing through the edges of her hair to click an image. This will be the highlighted image in her wedding album.
The disadvantage with the natural lighting is you need to limit your photo shoot time as these few hours of a day may not be helpful sometimes. If the weather is stormy or cloudy, you cannot have the light.
Artificial lighting for portrait pictures:
When you think of artificial lights, the first thing that comes to your mind is multiple lights, umbrellas, fancy reflectors, soft boxes etc.
You do not require all these equipment for a decent portrait picture. But, you can include them if you want.
Seriously, you can just have a portrait photo with a single flash.
Strobes are best artificial lighting setups for portrait photos.
The great thing about strobes lighting in portraits photographs is weather does not affect the lighting. The strobes offer the same lighting at all conditions such as night, day or cloudy weather.
The main light in the portrait pictures will be the modeling light and many portrait photographers click images with this single light and a reflector.
But, if you want to add more light to your picture, then here are the different lighting setups:
- Broad lighting: Highlights the side of the face turned towards the camera.
- Short lighting: Highlights side of the face turned away from camera.
- Butterfly lighting: Placed in front of the face to highlight the face.
- Rembrandt lighting: A combination of short and butterfly lighting.
- Split lighting: Placed on one side of the face while making the other side of the face to look like shadow.
- Rim lighting: This is placed behind the model while making the face look like shadow.
When compared with natural lighting, artificial lighting pictures cannot make a remarkable impression. Children do not like this set and sometimes do not cooperate with these sessions. These are the main disadvantages with artificial lighting in portrait pictures.
Both lighting setups have their own pros and cons, as a photographer it’s your duty to yield great pictures while accustoming to the lighting setups. Understand the circumstances and choose indoor lighting or outdoor lighting.