Bruce Weber Photographer Discusses a Few Lighting Patterns and Setups for Portrait Photography

Lighting is the foundation of any impactful portrait photography, no matter whether it is a character study or a corporate headshot. Hence, all experienced professionals engaging in portrait photography, such as Bruce Weber Photographer are pretty well-versed with the lighting setups and patterns associated with it. Lighting is not only important for flattering the features of the subject, but also for expressing the creative intent of the photographers. Most portraits are clicked using ambient light, but flash or continuous LED lights are also commonly used. Catchlights, or the reflection of the light source in the eyes of the subject, are considered to be vital to great portraits. They are also a good indicator of how high to position the light source.

To capture flattering and impactful portraits, one needs to master lighting. Fortunately, there are a number of simple portrait lighting setups that photographers can use to click consistently amazing looking images. Here are a few of those patterns or setups.

  • Split lighting: Going by its name, this type of lighting pattern splits the face into equal halves. It manages to create a dramatic half-shadow effect, especially when the light is hard. Such a lighting setup is commonly used to create moody portraits of artists and musicians. To achieve split lighting, photographers must put the light source 90 degrees to the left or right of the subject. A split-lit image can always be spruced up with background lights, rim lights and fill lights.
  • Loop lighting: Under this lighting pattern, a small shadow is positioned from the nose of the subject across their cheek. It is the most commonly used lighting pattern for portrait photography as it is quite easy to create and can flatter the features of most subjects. Photographers must note that the shadow of the nose and the shadow on the cheek does not touch in case of loop lighting. Rather, the shadow is kept small and typically points a bit downwards.
  • Rembrandt lighting: This lighting pattern gets its name from the 17th-century artist Rembrandt who used such a style in his portraits. Rembrandt lighting is identified by a clear triangle of light on the cheek of the subject. For the purpose of creating this lighting setup, one needs to place the light off to the side of the subject, and then as the subject to turn a bit away from the light. The light must be above their head so that the nose shadow falls down towards the cheek.
  • Butterfly lighting: Named for the butterfly-shaped shadow created under the nose of the subject, this lighting setup results in glamorous images, and hence is often used for portraits in fashion magazines. Butterfly lighting can deemphasize wrinkles, and hence is ideal for elderly subjects as well.

One can check out the portraits captured by Bruce Weber Photographer and other eminent industry professionals to gain inspiration and ideas on using diverse types of lighting patterns and setups for their images.

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