Wednesday, October 7, 2020


 By Guest Contributor

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Photography means drawing with light, so what you do with lighting can make the difference in your shots. If you want your subjects to stand out and colors to pop out, here are tips on how to create flattering light for your photos, so that you can illuminate your subjects and produce stunning results. 

Finding a broader light source, diffusing light, adjusting the angle, understanding color temperature, and playing with shadows are some techniques you can do to improve the output of your images. Whether you’re using off-camera flash in a photography studio or relying on the sun outside to light your photos, here are 5 flattering lighting tips to improve your photography skills. 

Find a Broader Light Source

A narrow light source makes it difficult for the camera sensor to receive light. Hence, it would be better to find a broad light source to reduce contrast, minimize shadows, and subdue texture. You can usually see this from the camera side of the face, casting a shadow on the off-camera side. 

With a broad light source, the light rays hit the subject from more directions yet at a softer rate, filling in shadows and providing even illumination to the frame.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Learn How to Diffuse Light

Practice aiming a narrow light source at a broad, matte surface like the ceiling, wall, fabric, reflector, or lightbox to scatter the lighting over a wider area. 

On the other hand, overcast skies, clouds, and fog act as natural diffusers helping you scatter the light in many directions. When they drift in front of the sun, you get a broader light source and less distinct shadows. 

Determine the Position of Lighting

The position also plays a crucial role in producing a flattering light. For example, a landscape photographer may want to light the subject from the sides to highlight the texture of foliage or rocks. Meanwhile, a portrait photographer may prefer to keep the light source close to the lens to quell skin wrinkles. 

In general, more texture appears when there's a greater angle at which the light hits the subject. Thus, if you want to emphasize a model's features, you need to position the beauty lighting close to the subject's side rather than directly in front. 

If you put the light closer to the subject, the falloff between the subject and the background becomes more evident. For this reason, it would be better if you move your subject close to a broad light source so that you can obtain natural and even lighting. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Use Shadows to Your Advantage

Shadows can be good or bad depending on the subject and the overall feel you want to achieve. There are times when you can use shadows to add shape, letting you produce structure, texture, and a more three-dimensional look. 

Lighting from above, below, or the sides can cast longer and deeper shadows, creating a sense of volume. Try positioning a light source high above and slightly to your subject's side to create a dramatic effect. 

Understand Color Temperature

Light has various colors, even though human eyes may perceive it as white or colorless. Sunlight produces warm hues during the early morning and later afternoon, whereas midday comes with bluish light. This lighting aspect refers to the color temperature or the color casts that digital cameras record. 

When using a digital camera, you can control the white balance to neutralize or emphasize color temperature. For instance, set the device's white balance to Cloudy if you're shooting landscapes on a clear day. This setting acts as a warming filter to create a more golden glow. 

Look at Your Subject's Eyes

Checking your subject's eyes is a simple way to determine whether the light is flattering. If your subject is struggling in opening the eyes, then the light is too harsh or bright, leaving you with squinty-eyed subjects. All you have to do is to turn your subject away from the light source. 

If the eyes appear dark or lifeless, then that means there's not enough light. To avoid dull-looking eyes, reposition your subject until the right amount of light hits the eyes to form catchlights. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


With these tips in mind, you can practice working with light so that you can find the most flattering source and quality for your pictures. Take time to experiment with various lighting techniques, as they are the keys to producing beautiful photographs.

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