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Digital Camera Resources
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Positioning Lights for Portrait Photography
An example of a two light and reflector set up that was used for a professional portrait
Lighting Diagram for Portraits
Light #1 is the main light positioned at a 45 degree angle to the subject.

Reflector is #2 which can be replaced with a second light.

The ratio of light from #1 and #2 should be different. Light #1 (the main light) is more powerful. The reflector should be the fill for a more pleasing portrait. That's why the professional studio flash power packs allow independent incremental settings for all attached heads. I'd suggest starting with ratios of 1:2 or 1:3 and see what strikes you. But never balance them so the light on both sides of the face is equal. That makes for boring portraits.

Light #3 is pointed at the background. It's more preferable to let the background be uniformly wrinkled for a more natural and pleasing portrait. It could either be a hard circle to illuminate behind the head or a broad soft light to light the background.

Light #4 is a hair light or rim light. it separates the hair from the background making the portrait look more natural and lifelike. The rim light should be elevated to look down on the hair. You don't want to do the entire head, just the edge that meets the background in camera.

All of this is open to personal interpretation and artist judgments but it'll give people a starting point when considering where to place the lights. I usually bounce the main (and secondary light if I use one) into a white umbrella to soften the light.

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