Foundations: Lighting

An amateur may not know quite why one portrait looks so much better than another one taken in slightly different lighting conditions. A subject will look at a shot of themselves and instantly assess: “Do I like how I look in this one?”, but not necessarily be able to understand what part light has played in their conclusion.

Masters of portrait photography, however, know that light is key to taking a shot from average to amazing. In fact, it’s the foremost consideration in portrait photography: its quantity determines the exposure settings, its quality determines how flattering it is and its direction determines the highlight and shadow areas on the subject’s face and body.

Every day, we encounter light of different colours and intensities, yet we rarely notice that it’s changed at all, thanks to the ability of our eyes to instantly adapt. The exact nature of the light matters to your camera, however, and if the settings don’t take them into account, at worst your photographs will just look wrong. At best, you’re unlikely to capture the best version of your subject, nor create an image with atmosphere.

This module will show you how to start noticing the changing light around you, and describes what to look for when lighting a portrait.

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