Professional Portrait Lighting
Lighting may be considered the secret sauce of good portraits and professional headshots. It can enhance, compliment, detract, and set apart one portrait from another, and one photographer from another. We all know how important lighting is in another area of photography: sunrises, sunsets, and landscapes. Without good light it will never stand out as remarkable. The spectacular sunset photo is memorable primarily because of the rare and special lighting. Secondly, the occasion, emotion, and the people we were with also make it stand out in our mind.
Back to portraits, the variety of lighting styles and light sources can be mind-boggling. Daylight, flash, ambient, room lights, reflective surfaces, overcast sky, spotlights, streetlights, overhead lights, white umbrellas, and softboxes, are just a beginning. Exploring and learning how they can be used in getting good professional portraits can occupy a photographer for years, whether amateur or professional. Putting that knowledge into practice and creating good looking headshots and portraits is the sweet reward for all involved.
The mood and message of a portrait can be enhanced by the right kind of lighting. Determining which kind of lighting technique to use is the enjoyable part. Some lighting styles work better than others. No one style is good for every person and every portrait. For any photographer who shoots portraits, observe how adept they are in handling a variety of lighting styles.
Painters such as Raphael, Michelangelo, Francisco de Goya, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer captured the essence of their subjects through their artistry, use of composition, and of course, masterful understanding and use of light. A good photographer also understand the good use of lighting and its many variations. Examine the photographers you’re considering with an eye to how comfortable they are on the subject of lighting. Good luck!