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Shoot: Create Intentional Shadows

Lesson 17 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

Shoot: Create Intentional Shadows

Lesson 17 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

17. Shoot: Create Intentional Shadows

Working with studio photography lighting is just as much about the shadows as it is the light. Learn how to create intentional shadows using studio equipment.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Introduction to The Environmental Portrait


Environmental Portrait Purpose


Personal Work


Find Your Process




Purpose For Action Editorial


Prepare for Shoot


Lesson Info

Shoot: Create Intentional Shadows

Now the one thing I'm gonna do is kind of screw it all up and I'm gonna have you relax for a second. We're gonna do a couple action shots in studio, so when I was talking about that paparazzi style light earlier with the on-camera flash, I do that a lot of times with the Profoto at the B2, because I can hand hold it. I happen to have my own personal B2 back here. And then I fill that in with one of these big umbrellas, cause there is gonna be some fall off, and that will be our last light set up. At least that's what I say, but I keep looking at the clock and we have time, so why not keep playing? And we're gonna go back to the white type of background. So, actually we are going to do two things. Brock, I'm going to have you stand back on the seamless, about, so don't lean back on this. This is not a wall. That happened once. Someone thought it was a wall and ended up through the seamless with everything ruined, and that's not good. So, this is not a wall. Stand right where I'm at. I'v...

e been lighting him from this side a lot, so I'm gonna light him from this side. So stay right where you're at. We're gonna do one harsh light, where we're purposefully gonna throw a shadow on the wall. Now, the thing about shadows is they fall opposite the light, so the more our light is centered, the more that shadow's gonna directly behind him. But if we want the shadow to go off to a side, we need to move the light a little bit. So I'm gonna put it about right here. I'm gonna put it up pretty high, because I want that shadow to fall down. I don't want it to be directly next to his head. Same thing applies with the height of the light and shadows. And then we're gonna fill it in with this, but just to show you, I'm gonna start off with no fill. We're gonna shoot at F-8. And we are going to cast a shadow. Then we're going to move that light slowly back to the center position to show how to get that kind of an on-camera flash effect. F-5, we need to go up. Another third. To F-8, so we're good. All right, so you can stay right in there. I'm gonna have you turn just a little bit more this way. Yep, head right towards me. And then hold that ball down here. Perfect. (shutter clicks) So, I don't like how far away that shadow is right now. We've got two options here: For one, it's at an awkward distance. We either need to move farther away from the backdrop, which we can do, so take a step away from the backdrop, because that will give more space for his shadow to fall away. And I can also keep the light over here, so his shadow will kick out of frame. So, as of right now, I don't think we'll get a shadow on the backdrop if I do this second shot. Could be wrong. So, it's close. I don't mind that as much, especially if I were to get, turn your head that way once. (shutter clicks) Chin down a little bit. And if I move this way ever so slightly. (shutter clicks) So it's just a different look. Now what we can do is get back towards the backdrop again for me. Like right almost so you're as close as you can get without, you can ease your way back there. And we're gonna make the shadow be an actual part of the shot, so it's gonna fall almost directly behind him. So Brock, I'm gonna have you stare right at the camera. Yep, just like that. (shutter clicks) And we didn't change distances, so that, I don't know. That's art people. All right, we'll reconnect. There we go. Actually, that was the previous image. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) All right, so now you can see we've changed where that shadow goes. If you want that head shadow that's falling below his chin to not be so prominent below his chin, you need to lower the light. Cause that's gonna make his shadow go higher up. And these are all things that I do when I'm experimenting in the studio, photographing myself on the tripod. It's really thrilling. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) And there we go. That shadow's slowly going. It's just a matter of what you wanna do. If you want to move it to the other side, do this. One, two, three. This will be less distracting, because it will be on the opposite side of his face. So there's all that type of stuff you can do. This is kinda more that on-camera flash feel. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) I actually like that quite a bit.

Ratings and Reviews

Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

a Creativelive Student

Dan is an excellent instructor! He's completely transparent with his thought processes, from technical to creative. He doesn't waste time horsing around or getting off topic, but is structured and sticks to his outline. Every minute watched is on topic, and is understandable. He's sincere and likable. The course is great for anyone interested in this genre!

Student Work