Photography Lighting Techniques

Photography lighting is a part of the learning curve that so many photographers struggle with even after years of experience. 

These articles take you behind the scenes in my studio and on location to help you demystify the art of lighting.  Just like anything else, it will require some effort and serous practice to improve your photography lighting skills, but the reward will be understanding the power of light and how it can make or break your image.

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  • Four different pictures showcasing the beauty and lighting of a woman in white underwear.

    Easy Backlit Beauty Lighting Technique With 1, 2 or 3 Lights

    Beauty lighting behind the subject? I know you are thinking the title is wrong. Even in the film days, the inside of the Kodak boxes had the Daylight Lighting Table that explained that you should put the light behind the camera with the subject facing towards the light.  This backlit beauty lighting…

  • The Importance of Catchlights for Portraits

    The Importance of Catchlights for Portraits

    If you are going to shoot portraits, don’t overlook the importance of catchlights. They’re a small detail that can easily make or break your shot. So what’s the big deal about catchlights? Catchlights play an important role in creating dimension and depth and in adding life to a portrait by…

  • Beauty Dish Lighting from an Umbrella

    Beauty Dish Lighting from an Umbrella

    The irony of a beauty dish is that it makes harsh light that is not really that beautiful… unless, of course, you use it properly. I’ll break it down for you and even show you how to make your own very portable DIY Beauty dish for less than $7. Go…

  • The Inverse Square Law for Photographers

    The Inverse Square Law for Photographers

    The inverse square law is one of those phrases that strikes fear into the minds of new and even experienced photographers. Why? Because we are talking about physics, equations… You know…math! But don’t worry. I am going do my best to simplify this inverse-square law stuff for you. There are…

  • DIRECT FLASH Glamour Shot or Beauty Portrait

    Direct Flash Glamour Shots and Beauty Portraits

    If you have tried using direct flash without any modifiers or, even worse yet, put a speed light on top of your camera and aimed it straight at your subject, or even if you haven’t, chances are you’ve heard that direct flash is not a good idea when you’re photographing…

  • EASY Portrait Lighting that can also be used for a Beauty Shot

    EASY Portrait Lighting that can also be used for a Beauty Shot

    A few years ago, I did a simple beauty shot with a three-light portrait lighting setup to help a young makeup artist build her portfolio as well as to help a young model add to her book. The Backstory I am frequently contacted by makeup artists and hair stylists as…

  • Create an Awesome 1 Light Fashion Shot Using Two DIY Gobos

    Create an Awesome 1 Light Fashion Shot Using Two DIY Gobos

    Here’s a one light fashion shot that I did that you can do with a few DIY gobos and a speedlight or a monolight. Plus, I’ll show you how to make this work in almost any sized space. Did I just hear a bunch of people ask what the heck…

  • 4 Light Portrait Lighting

    4 Light Portrait Lighting

    Let’s walk through a very flattering and easy -to-work-with four light lighting arrangement that is great for portraits, headshots and beauty shots. I have said many, many times in my videos – Keep it simple stupid. When I am photographing a model or working on a portrait for a client,…

  • Creative Shutter Drag Technique Combining Flash and Ambient Light

    Creative Shutter Drag Technique Combining Flash and Ambient Light

    Shutter drag or dragging the shutter is a flash technique. You can do it with speedlights or monolights and it can be used in a studio or on location, depending on the circumstances and the results that you’re after. I’m going to show you some images that use this technique,…

  • Direct Flash Glamour Lighting Tutorial

    Direct Flash Glamour Lighting Tutorial

    Somewhere in the learning curve of lighting and photographing beautiful women, photographers are taught that direct flash sucks and you should never use it. Yet, ironically, magazines like Maxim publish several covers a year shot with one light direct flash and the model or celebrity standing in front of a…

  • White Background Lighting technique with a softbox or OctoDome

    White Background Lighting technique with a softbox or OctoDome

    I love white backgrounds for portraits, headshots, and beauty shots. Here, I’ll be walking you through a simple and quick technique to get a pure white background for portraits or product shots. It requires minimal gear, it’s portable, and you can use it in tight space. Read on and I’ll even…

  • Learn portrait lighting with 3D software

    Learn Portrait Lighting With set.a.light 3D Studio Lighting Software

    Have you ever found yourself wanting to practice your portrait lighting techniques, but you don’t have a subject available? Do you get nervous when you are shooting someone, because you are afraid that if you run into a problem with your lighting, your subject will lose faith in you? You’re…

  • One Light Portrait Lighting for AWESOME Portraits & Headshots

    One Light Portrait Lighting for Portraits & Headshots

    Great lighting is not the result of owning lots of lights. Great light comes from learning to see light.  I want to show you how you can create some awesome one-light portrait lighting for portraits and headshots! Every single day, I receive messages asking about lighting. So over a few…

  • How To Shoot a Casual Portrait With One Light and One Modifier

    How To Shoot a Casual Portrait With One Light and One Modifier

    The casual portrait is taken in a studio… Which is not exactly a casual setting… So what does it really mean? For me it starts with an attractive subject, photographed in simple casual clothing, in a relaxed posture with simple, flattering light. This is a shot that I would do…

  • Photographing people with glasses - How to avoid glare in eyeglasses

    Photographing People With Glasses – How To Avoid Glare in Eyeglasses

    One of the most common questions I receive: what’s the best lighting to use for photographing people with glasses, so that you don’t have reflections or glare on eyeglasses? The answer is easy… and I can use any kind of lighting arrangement I want to. I just set my lights,…

  • Learn How to SEE Light. Remember the Egg!

    Learn How to SEE Light. Remember the Egg!

    When I started telling the egg story in my workshops many years ago, I got the sense that people were just humoring me as they sat there nodding their heads as if they understood the message. So I went ahead and recorded a video to show what I was talking…

  • How To Use a Reflector the Right Way for Better Portraits

    How To Use a Reflector the Right Way for Better Portraits

    Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Seriously – PLEASE STOP using reflectors to create crappy unflattering light. TV shows, movies, and unfortunately even YouTube photographers seem to think it’s really cool to do that low angle gold reflector that blinds your subject, makes ridiculously bright catchlights in the bottom of…

  • High Key Lighting With Three Studio Lights And A White Room

    High Key Lighting With Three Studio Lights And A White Room

    “High Key Lighting is a bright even light that is designed to eliminate most of the shadows in a photograph“ This set-up is a high key lighting arrangement that uses three studio strobes (You could also do it with Speedlight’s or hot lights) and it takes advantage of the studio…

  • Who says bounce flash is ugly?

    Who Says Bounce Flash Is Ugly?

    “Never use bounce flash for portraits!” When I was a young photographer (back in the film era) I was taught that bounce flash for people pictures was not flattering and should only be used for event and news photography. Recently I did a Google search on the phrase “Bounce Flash”…

  • Shooting the female nude on a black background.

    Equipment and Lighting for Shooting the Female Nude

    Planning KISS IT! = Keep It Super Simple Especially for your first few shoots… select a simple concept or lighting style and don’t try to over do it. The majority of my fine art nudes are shot with one or two lights. Even when I am not using the models…


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