Three studio portrait ideas for working with dark skin

Add shape and depth to portraits of dark-skinned subjects by manipulating the highlights on their face and body.

Whereas shadows create definition in portraits of pale-skinned subjects, for dark-skinned subjects the opposite applies. Instead, you create shape and depth by focusing on the highlights.

This approach to lighting dark skin applies whether you are a studio or natural light photographer, so make sure you watch this video to understand the concept.

In it, Paul talks you through three completely different portraits of Matt, our video editor. First up is a traditional, one-light set-up, then a close-up using ‘Rembrandt lighting’ and lastly a funky, rim-lit portrait using two studio lights. You’ll see the straight-out-of-camera images as well as the final edits.