A Beginner’s Guide to the Basic Studio Lighting Setup for Portraits

Want to get started with shooting portrait photos with studio lighting? Here’s a helpful 8-minute video by Adorama with photographer Mark Wallace that introduces the different types of studio lighting and the specific job they each perform.

Key Light

A key light is your main light. It’s “the cornerstone of your lighting setup,” and you’ll most often only be using one of them for your shoot. All of your metering efforts will begin with the key light, and subsequent lights are positioned and metered in relation to the key light.

Fill Light

The fill light is used to fill in
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How This Portrait Was Shot and Edited, From Planning to Final Photo

Photographer Francisco Hernandez has launched a new video series titled “Behind the Shot” that will document the entire process of how a photo of created, from concept to finished image. In this 12-minute video, Hernandez shares how he shot a portrait of a model named Barbie. Hernandez originally met Barbie back in 2014 when he was just starting out. After sending out around 40 messages to photographers in search of an assistant position, Hernandez heard back from one based about an hour away. It was at the first shoot with the photographer that Hernandez met Barbie, and this is one
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Big News: My Brand New Book “The Flash Book” Comes Out Today

Big news – my brand new book “The Flash Book” comes out today! Starting today it’s available in eBook format, ready to download right now (the print edition is already on press).  My publisher (Rocky Nook Publishing) is celebrating today’s launch with an absolutely insane deal — just $15 for the eBook (it’s available for download right now!). Here’s the link to their $15 eBook deal (and use the code below). About the book:
I didn’t want to write yet another book that teaches you everything you can do your flash. Instead, this book is for people who bought Continue reading "Big News: My Brand New Book “The Flash Book” Comes Out Today"

Getting Great Light At Any Event

Getting Great Light At Any Event Getting great light in an event setting whether inside or outside is a tough shoot. You have to understand exposure, people are moving sometimes erratically, ambient light is moving over your subjects randomly, and you still have to create sellable imagery. I photograph several nightclubs in Dallas, TX regularly and the imagery I’m creating is their marketing for new patrons. What I have to show is an inviting and fun environment whether it’s packed or not and where people will want to spend their weekday and weekend nights, and let’s be honest, their hard earned money. This lighting isn’t tough Continue reading "Getting Great Light At Any Event"

Tip: Use a Mannequin Head to Practice Portrait Lighting Without a Model

Want to learn portrait lighting but don’t have a model you can spend hours and hours with? Here’s a 4-minute video in which photographer Ed Verosky offers a simple suggestion: Buy a cheap mannequin head to practice your skills. Using a real model to fine-tune your skills can be uncomfortable and boring for the subject. By using a mannequin, you’ll have a simple test subject that won’t mind getting blasted by studio lights all day. You don’t even need a full-body mannequin. A Styrofoam mannequin head is cheap and can serve you well. Just stick it on a spike in
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iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

The new iPhone X has a number of Portrait Lighting looks that allow users to “fake” professional lighting styles. Here’s a 4-minute video by photographer Daniel DeArco that compares the iPhone X’s Portrait Lighting with the real studio lighting setups they’re designed to mimic. All the images in these comparisons are taken with the iPhone X, with those on the left having been shot with the digital lighting modes. On the right are images shot with the iPhone X without any of the digital lighting enabled, but instead with the lighting replicated with a real lighting rig. Here are the
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Three beautiful TV shows you probably aren’t watching

I’ve worked on episodic television. I know how fast it moves. That’s why I’m amazed at how good recent TV shows tend to look. Not only are the stories and acting better than what I see in features, but the cinematography is on par as well. It’s not always as complex as one will see on a feature, but it’s amazing what television cinematographers are able to do quickly and simply. The following are three shows that I’ve watched and enjoyed over the last year or two that tend to be pretty obscure, at least in the U.S. Each
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Tim Tadder Explains the Best Way to Use Natural Light When Capturing Underwater Photographs

Tim Tadder Explains the Best Way to Use Natural Light When Capturing Underwater Photographs Tim Tadder is a man on a mission. One of the most prolific advertising photographer working today, his clients include the likes of New Era, Nike, Reebok, Under Armour, and a recent collaboration with the National Football League. In this video from an educational series Tadder produced in conjunction with RGG EDU, the photographer takes us through how to produce stunning underwater action images using only the natural light. [ Read More ]

Trump’s Official Portrait and the Language of Lighting

Nine months after taking office, the White House has finally released official portraits of both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Last month, the Washington Post did a story highlighting the empty walls of some 9,600 federal buildings, all waiting for for an official portrait of the new POTUS. In the meantime, the Department of Veteran Affairs was instructed to download/print a much older portrait of then candidate Trump, seen below. As a photographer and veteran involved in policy work, I am interested in both the messaging and methodology of Trump’s two official portraits. As a baseline
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Khloe Kardashian Brings Own Lighting to DMV for Driver’s License Photo

Here’s an unusual idea that you may only be able to pull off if you’re rich, famous, and well-connected: socialite Khloe Kardashian wanted the perfect driver’s license photo, so she decided to bring her own portrait lighting and makeup artist to the DMV. In a recent episode of the reality TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kardashian brought lighting director Landon Hosto and her friend Malika Haqq to the DMV to help improve her driver’s license photo. After getting touched up by Haqq, Kardashian posed for her official portrait while Hosto held up a giant ring light in
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Three Lighting Setups Using Window Light

Three Lighting Setups Using Window Light One of the best things about window light is that you can find it almost anywhere. As winter approaches and chilly weather threatens to keep photo sessions indoors, photographers will face the choice of how to light their portraits. Strobes and flashes are a great option, but not all photographers own them. Almost everyone has access to a window though, and a window has plenty to offer any photographer who knows how to use it. [ Read More ]