Basic three point lighting technique

I’m probably a little late posting this for the Photo 2 students, but perhaps some of the Photo 1 guys will be able to take something out of this. I’m going to share a little bit about the more popular lighting styles for portraits.


The key is your main light. It should be at somewhere around 45 degrees from center (where your camera is placed), and at or a little above eye level, or where eye level would be if you’re shooting something besides a person or animal.

The fill light is used to get rid of the harsh shadows caused by an off center light, and should be placed at about the same angle as the key light, but on the opposite side.

The back light (or hair light) is used to give your subject separation from the background. It lights up the hair and shoulders, and should be placed at an angle behind the subject. Usually this light is also put fairly high in relation to the subject.

This video explains the setup well, with photos of what each light does on its own. It’s worth the long watch.



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