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Snapping a portrait is much more complex than pinning up a laser backdrop and requesting your subject say “cheese”.

The key to a polished look is lighting! Read our lighting tips for making your pals look their best in any light.

Lighting Tips for Perfect Portraits

Use a Ring Light For Even Light All Over

The most basic way to light up a face is to light it up as evenly as possible.

Try adding a DSLR ring light that fits around your DSLR’s lens (or detaches for handheld control). Or, use a mini ring light with your phone camera!

You’ll find that your friends’ faces look even better in even light.

Lighting Tips for Perfect Portraits

Bounce Light to Get Rid of Shadows

Reflectors are particularly useful when you’re shooting outside or near a window to take advantage of natural light.

Since it’s a little hard to move the sun to get it shining at just the right angle, it can cause some harsh shadows.

So, line up your reflector (or a white foam board in a pinch) on the opposite side of your subject as your main light source to bounce light up at them and soften unwanted shadows.
Lighting Tips for Perfect Portraits

Light From the Side for a Bit of Drama

Okay, we’ve spent long enough fighting shadows, so let’s look at some lighting tips that will help you learn to work with them!

We used a pocket-sized flashlight to light one side of Meg’s face, casting mysterious shadows across the far side.

What secrets could Meg be hiding behind those eyes?

Light from Behind for Even More Drama

It’s like it’s opposite day around here with the last of our lighting tips.

Light your subject from behind to cast their entire face in shadows and create a silhouette.

The brighter the light behind, the less detail you’ll see up front.