How to Take a Portrait Using Short Lighting

When you use short lighting, you need to turn your subject’s head so that his or her face isn’t staring directly into the camera. The main light source in short lighting comes from the side of the face directed away from the camera. Sometimes referred to as narrow lighting, short lighting is a valuable lighting style because it tends to narrow overly broad faces (as shown in this figure):

1Turn your subject’s face so that it’s angled somewhat to the right or left of the camera.

Don’t angle the subject too much, though; this isn’t supposed to be a profile shot. The side of the face you can see more of is the broad side of the face; the side you see less of is the short or narrow side of the face.

2Set up your main light to illuminate the short side of the subject’s face.

You can also add a fill light or reflector to fill in some light on the broad side of the face.

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3Add additional lights, if you want

Add a fill light to separate your subject from the background for a good three-light setup and add a hair light for a four-light configuration.