5 Lighting Mistakes to Avoid with Home Portrait Photography

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When you are taking portrait photographs at home, you generally do not have a studio lighting set up.  Instead you depend on normal lighting sources found at home in addition to the flash.  However, this can lead to poorly lit portraits wherein your subject’s features appear dark or shadowed.  Here are five common lighting mistakes you can avoid when taking portrait photographs at home.

Not using a flash  

Even when you feel the ambient light at home is enough for a clear portrait, you may end up with shadows on your subject’s face.  This is because even though the natural light is sufficient, there would be portions of the face where light does not fall evenly.  This is can be easily rectified by using a flash when taking home portrait photographs.  This will ensure that your subject’s face is evenly lit and you get nice and clear portraits.
    

Placing the key light at 90 degrees

When you place the key light at a 90-degree angle from the subject’s face, only the half that faces the light appears bright, leaving the other half completely in the shadow creating a high contrast image which does not look good.  Instead, use a silver or white reflector directly opposite the light.  This will bounce the light onto the other half of the face and give a much more evenly lit portrait.
    

Placing the key light at 45 degrees

This too will produce shadows over the subject’s face and give you a poor and unflattering portrait.  Again try using a reflector to create a better effect.  Place the reflector on the opposite side of the light so that it reflects light onto that side of the face.
    

Using very bright background light

Using a bright light behind your subject can give you a rim or halo effect, but can also take away the focus from the subject’s face.  When using a light behind your subject, make sure that the flash balances it out and brings the face into focus.  You could also use a few reflectors to bounce light into the face so it is well and uniformly lit.
    

Uneven lighting in a family portrait

When shooting a family portrait at home, make sure that each person’s face is well lit.  Usually each person’s head is at a different height and uneven lighting could leave someone’s face in the shadow.  Place your light and reflectors so that light falls evenly over everyone’s face.  You could also use umbrella lights to focus light into the field ensuring that the portrait is clear and bright.

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