Studio Lighting Basics

Studio Lighting Basics

Intro by Skip Cohen

We don’t share “how-to” technique very often on the Marathon Blog, but today’s lighting tips, thanks to Suzette Allen, are perfect for a couple of reasons.

First, we’re all still dealing with downtime, and her tips are perfect for so many of you to raise the bar on your technique with portraiture. Second, so many of you have forgotten the basics, or maybe you never really took the time to fine-tune your skills.

The first book I co-authored, which Marathon printed, was Don Blair’s Guide to Posing and Lighting Body Parts. “Big Daddy” was one of the very best, and he spent a significant part of his life teaching the various lighting techniques. He used to say, “You’re not allowed to break the rules unless you know the rules!”

Well, the two short videos Suzette shares in today’s post are perfect for helping you capture better portraits in the studio. And while many of you don’t have a formal studio, that doesn’t mean you’re not set up in a corner of your home to practice capturing and creating beautiful portraits!

Last but not least, as things start to ease up on the restrictions caused by the pandemic, you need to be ready to hit your audience with everything you’ve got in your skill set. Use this time to practice the tips Suzette shares and start building brand awareness based on the quality of your work!


By Suzette Allen

Studio Lighting for Portraits

Face it, people want to look GREAT in their portraits. OK, not great- better than in real life, right? Like twenty pounds lighter, 10 years younger, skin much smoother, eyes and teeth so bright…. And really, that’s our job as photographers to do three things:

*Hide a person’s flaws

*Show off the best features

*Capture authentic personality.

It sounds like a tall order, but if you know the tricks and you can connect with people, it’s not that hard. Boosting confidence and building a rapport goes 50% of the way. Knowing how to pose is helpful too, but lighting is HUGE! Even if it’s a ho-hum pose, if it’s great (flattering) lighting, you’re probably gonna make momma happy!

So many photographers have not been formally trained in lighting for the face and body- they just picked up a camera and loved the creativity and got lots of compliments on how their images came out so they started doing more…  And, well, you can take a lot of pictures and not really have confidence about what you are doing, but feeling like you are doing ok. You can take some “nice shots” but not be getting that “magnetic image” or “dynamite impact” like you imagined on a consistent basis. Knowing how to properly set your lights for flattering faces sets you up for success and allows you to focus on the connection and rapport. The less you have to worry about with the technical the more magic and fun you can create! (fun session=great expressions)

Here are a couple basic videos on how to set up your lights in a studio (Using continuous lights by NANLITE) to get beautiful light direction and facial dimension. Of course, there is far more information in the whole program I gave at SPAC conference (School Photography Association of CA) https://www.spac-usa.org/, and that program (56 minutes) is available for purchase in my EDU site, CreateWithSuzette.com. (available in Feb, 2021), but these segments are free for the inspiration! Enjoy!!

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This article was written by
Suzette Allen

Suzette Allen, Lumix Ambassador and Adobe Influencer, is a long- time Photoshop instructor and Hybrid pioneer who continues to reinvent herself to stay current with the changing landscape of photography. Pursuing creativity by embracing technology has become a hallmark of her style and a continual driving force to share her creativity with the world. She passionately creates and shares her vision as a Photographer and Educator, being a lover of people AND photographic art!

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