7 Simple Light Schemes For Portraits

“Butterfly”, “Loop”, Rembrandt’s light, separate light, contour, wide and short lighting.

Our professional photographers and authors talk about seven different techniques for setting the light when shooting portraits.

1. Light “Butterfly”

The “Butterfly” light scheme is one of the most profitable light settings for most people. Your goal is to create a butterfly-shaped shadow under the model’s nose. To achieve this, position the light source pointing at the model directly above it. This will create dramatic shadows under the cheeks, nose and chin.

2. Light “Loop”

The name of this scheme comes from the circle of light on the face of the model. To achieve this type of lighting, set everything as for “Butterfly”, then move the light source slightly to the right or left. Move it until a shadow from the nose appears on the opposite side of the face.

3. The light of Rembrandt

For this scheme, you need to create a light triangle on the cheek of the model. Rembrandt’s Light is a more dramatic version of the “Loop” light, in which the shadow from the nose connects with the shadow on the cheek. To achieve this, move the light even more to the right or left than for the “Loop” and direct it at a sharper angle.

4. Separate light

Separate light is an ideal way to create an atmosphere of mystery. The setting is simple – you need to place the light on the side of the model so that the other side of the face is in shadow.

5. Contour lighting

Contour lighting perfectly separates the model from the background. For such a scheme, install the light source behind the model and tilt it so that it shines on the back of the head. This light source should be more powerful than the one that illuminates the face in front – this will give the picture more dramatic.

6. Wide coverage

With this type of light, a wider part of the face is illuminated (looking at the camera). In this case, the narrower part, which is further from the camera, is in the shade. To create this pattern, place the light source to the right or left of the model and tilt so that the light hits the face. Ask the model to turn the case away from the camera, and the face, on the contrary, turn to it.

7. Short lighting

Short lighting is the opposite of wide lighting. For this scheme, ask the model to turn the body towards the light so that the wide part of the face (facing the camera) is in shadow.