How to Backlight a Portrait Subject
Backlighting, also known as rim lighting, can create an almost magical glow or halo-like effect for your portrait subject. With backlighting, you create a rim of light that highlights your subject’s form. Here’s how to backlight your subject:
Place your main light behind the subject.
This is the source of your subject’s seeming glow.
Position a fill light in front of the subject.
This fill light prevents the face from falling into shadow.
For full backlighting, position the main light directly behind the subject, about even with the subject’s head.
This figure shows a photo with full backlighting. Check your composition carefully to make sure that the light is hidden from the camera’s view.
For side rim lighting, set up a small light with a snoot on a boom pointed at the side of the subject’s head, away from the camera.
You want to create just a hint of backlighting to add some glow to one side of the head.
Practice this technique and get the hang of it. Rim lighting and backlighting are valuable lighting techniques for certain types of portraiture, such as a bride’s portrait. Just be careful not to overdo it.