Part of the reason behind my recent decision to study lighting technique was to further my understanding of successful portrait lighting.
Whilst I enjoy taking photographs of almost any subject, portraiture is definitely my favourite genre. A great majority of people don’t like seeing themselves in photographs. Therefore it is very satisfying to take someone’s picture and for that person to subsequently tell me that they like what they see.
When considering the lighting for a portrait, I’ve learnt that the quality of the result depends on matching the right quality of light to the scene. For me, the photo below works well because the softness of the light coming through the window on an overcast day matches the way the subject is sitting back and relaxing whilst wrapped in soft, cozy fabrics.
- The light coming in at almost 90 degrees to the subject is raking across the surface of the scene and revealing the fluffy texture of all the fabric surfaces.
- The decision to expose for the highlights and let the dark areas remain very dark are a visual clue as to the time of day the photograph was taken i.e. late afternoon/early evening as the light was fading.
- Finally, the way the limited amount of light falling on the shadow side of the subject’s face in a Rembrandt style contributes to the overall mood of the photo as a moment of relaxation on a dark winter’s afternoon.
I have presented the image in black and white as I feel that it helps to focus the eye on the effect of the lighting. With only shades of grey to consider, the viewer is forced to look at the image in terms of light vs. dark instead of colour.