High Angle That I Prefer For Portraits – Copyright Scott Bourne 2011 – All Rights Reserved

By Matthew Jordan Smith and Scott Bourne

If you’re shooting a model in-studio with lights, be sure to experiment with light placement. Try different heights but in each case make sure the light is the same distance from the model front to back.

One light can give you a different feeling simply by raising or lowering it. You can change the mood by changing the height of the light. You can also change the over all feel of the image.

Raise the light about 18 inches and you change the mood. You make the light more flattering. You change the angle when you change the height and you get some additional detail. The catch lights also move higher and get closer to falling into the natural position of 10:00 O’Clock or 2:00 O’Clock. These are considered the optimal position for print competition. And while it’s a very small picky detail, it’s one that established pros notice.

Raise the light above the subject and you change the mood again. The light continues to be more flattering while becoming more directional. The catch lights still rise higher. This sort of lighting is often called Rembrandt lighting because it mimics the lighting the famous painter used in his studio.

We prefer the Rembrandt lighting for most portraits, such as the one we post here. You will probably find you feel the same way, but don’t take our word for it, experiment. Find out what works for you and don’t forget that light height plays a part in good portraiture.


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