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Lighting Solutions for Portrait Photography

Lesson 6 of 6

Lighting Real People & Situations


Lighting Solutions for Portrait Photography

Lesson 6 of 6

Lighting Real People & Situations


Lesson Info

Lighting Real People & Situations

Okay, so we got the lights all set up she got blue dress on so I think I'll pop a blue gel in that background since the backgrounds gray get a great background if you have great you put a thing on there so daniel you won't put this in there why keep talking so we're gonna put this blue gel and on that light light the background and then I'll talk about how easy this is to take this picture you guys ready? All right? Rough job being a photographer really rough so he talked about products but this thing here I use every day and nobody really knows what this thing is called exploit this guys know what this thing does? Nope. Who said exposure? How'd you know that? Ok, it does white bounce I'm just messing with you make you think ok, so when you go to take a picture or photograph what's the first thing you set your camera your aperture what aperture do you want to photograph it? What do we want? Take this picture and I got this beautiful signal lens I'm going to set it on aperture priority ...

at two point eight if it's a four five lenz who cares? But if you paid extra thousand for two point eight just blew it there because if not you lose one thousand dollars all my lenses I glue them if they're wide open I want to lose a thousand dollars to that could about somewhere in comer okay, so I'm gonna put my eyes so probably two fifty I'm just guessing I'll put on to fifty inside tripod what's the slower shutter speed I could take a picture and I'm in seattle I drink a lot of coffee what's the slower showed speed for me it's one twenty five but I'm gonna tripods it doesn't really matter so I'm gonna try to keep the shutter speed around one twenty five right? Okay if I take this term in camera menu for if I put this in front of my lens it will turn my camera in tow internet meter this turned you kick it and turn your camera to incident meter so I'm a put my came in on aperture priority I picked the aperture I want this camera and shoot it for five why would I do that? I paid ok so it's a two point eight we find out what's a correction show speed so what? I'll put it back here aim it back at the light take a picture still warm or take a photograph separatism minus do one more okay now if you want to go back to my screen doesn't really matter but my info is up on my camera right here in the back it says two hundred at two point eight I couldn't move diet so diane won't lower but who cares? I'm only at two fifties and I like is going grainy it's not worth the effort for you could have but it's saying when you push play and you got your info up it'll tell you what it just took the picture at okay so now I will also put the camera on manual and what it's telling me two hundred two point eight so now my manual and I'm going to send it to two hundred two point eight I'm also going to take that frame and I'm gonna white balance from it so I'm gonna find the white balance and you say you want to use this image you just took the white bounce and I'll go yes to get any easier now here comes the hard part you have to take a picture this is rough so got the white down set now I was a hot shot when I was sixteen seventeen years old and I was in monterey, california I went to work for a photography studio and he was interviewing me and he said you have a tripod use a tripod I go no you know I can't hear you here I am thinking I'm the best already, you know not come down who cares? So then after a while I thought you know what he did get the best of me and he was right because once you've composed your image, you've got everything set, you know, your angle I could go back in there and fix the last minute details I don't have to come back and recompose things obviously this is not for everything trying to see when you're in the studio there's no reason why you couldn't have a tripod when you're out you're experimenting, do whatever you want but there are times when a tri pi really makes sense okay? So I'm just going to come in whether that light row good darken upper shoulders come in with my reflector bring it forward reflect the light into their do you a few last minute fixes on her hair what's your dog's name again happy now why is he so happy? What kind dog is a peak needs beautiful so you see what I'm doing talking getting ready this is beautiful lines this is a sigma seventy two, two hundred so really what you gotta lives that tethered, we'll be able to see it. See what you got you got to realize is you gotta have the right lens you can't be taken pictures this close to people with us twenty four to seventy take the twenty four to seventy and hide it don't ever take a portrait with a twenty four to seventy unless it's a scenic and you got the subject way out there in the rule of thirds it's not for portrait it's all right so you want a little bit more shadow back the reflector up a little and then this is a white reflector it's working beautiful lover why you're so happy all time nice stop smile good nice now work your eyes a little bit bigger nice now if you want their eyes bigger tom to look up a little higher see the camera up in here up in there good sometimes you could tell him that tilted chin down a little bit good now we could take these different things you could do with the watch me go in know what they have really, really beautiful curls and all this stuff it's taken him all day long you got to be really delicates all come in here right up by the neck take this swoop it real nice now you could bend your shoulders a little bit look into the camera, bring your chin by here sheikh until their head a little bit into that now look at this. I'll take this down light all that hair from the side show that hair off of course now just a little bit off your eye and bring your shoulder up a little bit good do this again causes are coming and fix it for all the little details shoulder up, bring your top up right here under your own bit higher now we'll bring the reflector and a little bit closer a little bit up light underneath there that's pretty nice bigger eyes got it and that's pretty much ready forcing questions now, actually, you want think want me to take a picture? A couple pictures of this gentleman here in the class? Yeah let's bring you up. Good job. Thanks. Okay, cool. How you doing today? So not too sure about you, but if you were a ceo of a company, I would have studied you earlier. Probably would've looked it up last night. I have a seat there, sir, getting argued that block that black block there. So when you fall, I remember and I was really young I was so nervous to photograph ceos because what do I say? That I don't know that my debt level but, you know now with the internet put your right foot up on there, it's not enough. So hold. So what we're going to do is raise up this leg to create something for this arm to sit on when you photograph people, everything are triangles. Ok, ok, cool. So I'm gonna analyze this guy right on the spot let's figure out what's going on, so the first thing you've got to figure out is how to fix clothing shirts what's wrong with this shirt collar. You gotta pull that colorado. There were. Look, I'll do it. You relax, coach. Good getting money in their pocket. I'll hold it for you if you want. Not you. Good. So then you're looking like, where is his hair receiving back that hair, like can't be touching that so nominal back that hair light up. Does he not have hair? Does you have hair is black hair is a white here. All this stuff, you've got to kind of know. So I'm gonna keep it a pie and over him. But it's not going to touch any of these spots in here where? I know I need help. Okay? What pattern to use when somebody's walks in like this, how do you what's your process? Okay, what's, his face like this round is a skinny sucked in is that why do you want to make a skinnier the amount of make a wider is it for a publication or if it is enough for publication? If it's for a publication, the number one thing you gotta do is broad lighting, because then it doesn't suck up all the ink in the paper if you put the shadow. Up front that's going to be all ink and it's going to be blocked up. You're not going to see into him. He's got a great face now I'm looking at the bridge of his nose. Is there a bump on his nose or anything that can't hit the light that show up in the shadow? That would make that his very good looking guy. How many girlfriends do you have? I know it's expensive. Just day with one don't don't don't don't do that just joking. You know what I say to myself? I love my car keeps me out of trouble. Okay? I got another friend he's pretty selfish too. I don't think this kid will ever get me he's only twenty four. He likes wining and dining so much. You know, when I spend on anybody else. Okay, so I'm gonna just gonna come in here? He's got good. See this arm right here? If this isn't here and it's down like this, the shoulder drops. The reason why you put the hand here is to raise the shoulder. You know, you don't find pads and suits anymore like they used to, but years ago put pads in there and try it, ok, so he's good now, the other thing, he doesn't have a double chin but I'm still going to tell him to be a turtle and stick your neck out a little bit because that helps everybody you tilt your head a little bit okay, so the hair lights of perfect on you it's got a couple flyaway hairs but I'm not going to fix those because that tze just three or four I could fix it photo shopped in that embarrassing by doing this and ok, cool no you've got to make sure that see if you can see through here but there's a hole right here which is good because that gives them a waste like when you pose people in their hands up against the body there is no waste he got open that up and show where that isthe so if that that be wrong, it has to be out to see through there and then I'm gonna pull on the side of your suit coat on the sides everything gets patted down if people are nervous, they're shoulders are up you didn't talk to him, you know the number one thing you could do to somebody it's just this hold them on their shoulder a little bit how's it going? You know? And then you're relaxing them because you don't know if they want to get your picture taken or not, you know, ok, so he's gonna look really good when we pull these up now you know if this is blocked what you see but the other thing I gotta do quite a bit if there's a lot of slack in the shirt you put your hand way up in here and you pull that up push that up in there hold it pull that back not so much for him but if he had a tie on and the tie was now you gotta make sure this is centered in the better this is up better he's going to look so I'm a poll here hold it up in there if it's a woman you know what I do I use their hand here I'm not getting sued hold that ok you're looking really good you got nice smile so how many kids do you have no kids good for you save a lot of money you can still vacation I can't go anywhere except downtown detroit it is but if I lived here in seattle I would definitely be out in the mountains I hear it's like an hour's drive and you're in god's country nice still ok very nice okay, now if you got a close up of his face at all can you see the shadow from his nose going into his eyeball so I'm gonna have to move the light a little bit I might take the blue filter off here because not necessary for him we're gonna spot like this with byron doors into the center the closer you bring it more of a spot it is the more you back it up the whiter gets so it's a distance of your light from the background member and then we said that we would just feather it off center a little bit so I could so he has broad lighting at him and tilt your head that's a little bit and I'm gonna bring that light and we are going to turn it off is here bringing in closer see his forehead getting dark right up in here does it show up I know let's take a picture and then you guys can see wow stretch your neck forward a little more okay cool here we go it's like I'm getting a little lens flare so I'm backing up a little bit more zooming alomar just a little happy just little pull pull them out get in your face lamar no more happy nice all right let's take a look at one of these got what a rough job huh he's a little happier little happier up a little power cool polo jacket back and shoulders down a little bit I'm separated a little bit that's built to try and go not too much keep that down because you're both this out good nice hey chin up bigger smile nice and chin up a little more don't don't smile with teeth just pull your mouth of it through your face a hair right there nice got it and there's a picture of him very nice I'll sell it to you later this is this my daughter was like two years old, right? And we're in michigan one of the instructors want to use my daughter some I go right ahead. So then later on he sends me a bill for five hundred dollars for an eight by ten I was like you're the one that wanted my picture my daughter I was I won't mention either way. Well ok so thank you let's ask him questions was a good let's say yes talk about hair lights and feathering the light we've had a few questions about that how do you feathering light and fathering legal light means aim it past center okay, I don't like the ears and a person cut it off watch old black and white movie and watch how they had barn doors and they feathered the light feathering the light just means a minute past center even the light out from cheek to cheek so it's the same brightness hair lights do this it is too easy to grids to strip lights we didn't have strip lights twenty thirty years old and then put that in there and again opened the fabric up for black hair put the fabric back in for lighter here shut the hair light off if they don't have hair right for hair here light here. Okay, what else? What you were talking about with the shoulders and you came up to john here and you grab him on the shoulder and said that this was going to relax him? My question is, are there ways to do that without touching someone? Cause I've actually experienced that we're men felt that it was more of a dominance thing and they didn't like being touched that way. No, when you lose, if you if you see their shoulders are way up, yeah, then it might be ok. Yeah, at that point, maybe they just need a hug or a little tap or right, and I'm a hugger. So for me, I usually that I work with my husband and when he goes up to a man sometimes it's like dude, you're not you don't touch me, you know? You know what? I don't think people want you touching their faces with your greasy fingers, you know, and all that kind of stuff, but I think it times like me always have somebody, somebody else's in the room, it's their mom, it's their parents is their sister brother somebody's in the room, and I think they can see that you're trying just to meet be nice, but if you're really trying and you're putting stuff forward to fix every little detail on they realize you're trying and sometimes the person's just nervous or they got attention deficit and they keep looking off or turning or you'll fix their hair and they mess it all up and so I think it's just a kind gesture to try to get him to relax but the most important thing is talk about things that's important to them in their life for me it's a nice glass of wine you know that you do offer line to your client's kid you can't say that I'm just curious because you're mentioning I just I was wondering if that were being nice you you when you're a professional and you own a business it's very important that you run it as professional as you can doctor side wants to know please explain why diffuser will not be helpful in speed light because if you look up the fusion in the dictionary like she looked up to it means disperse and all it's going to help you with your speed light is spread the flash if he's using a fish eye he should put that on there if he's not using a fish eye there's no reason for it and second of all no pro is going to use speed light on their camera they'll take it off the camera put it on another light stand and they still won't name a direct all aiming at an umbrella okay but if you're gonna try to do that outside it's really going to work on a cloudy day if it's a sunny day then they're going to sell you some bracha bracket that you put fifteen flashes in there why not just buy I'm gonna put my life I want to take one light with me that we'll do everything would it be awesome if you could just take one light and even if it's like you know I teach a lighting class for outside which way in north america the lights in the middle of day it's amy north which way the aim your camera south all this stuff about where is likely to be in this type of a box I'm not point right now I don't even care I could go out there right now in the middle of the day and not even care where man or anything have one light and overpower anything out there I take a speedy trial fifteen hundred explorer pack in a pocket wizard that tells it one to flash called hyper sink and I could overpower anything out there and have enough power to do anything at fifteen feet away if it's a group is bigas you and I'm twenty feet away what would I need? Twenty four hundred watts if it's bigger what do I need five thousand watts don't buy speed lights unless it's cloudy every day or inside is not going to help you and then when you buy a speed light you see this big umbrella? This is where dr needs his diffuser on your speed like you gotta speed light on here. And you a man in here, how much off this real estate is your speed like in a touch? Do you think it's going to go it's going to spread to hear your speed lights right here? You think it's going to hit seven feet? No. So you put the diffuser I'm here it might go to here that's why? I like bare bulb flashes bare bulb in a goal like that whole thing. I mean, problems have you encountered? And how do you solve them? What are just some common for people just starting out doing this? What they mean by the wrong stuff? Okay, they had the wrong stuff. They buy strobes, they can't shoot it. Two point eight or one point four. Okay, though, by all this gimmicky stuff, when I could do it all with this box, this is called the west. Got shallow box wants to the coolest thing I ever invented. One more thing to my back up for one watch this we're fifty years ago were in hollywood best photographers ever. Where did they use for nell spotlights hot lights, they would take the light we got shut the studio lights out for this one that they would take the lights climb up on a ladder take the for now lens and you focus it take the barn doors watch what I do in twenty seconds I could take her picture let's start for may I need my clamp this course thing you'll ever see ok, so tune your body all the way that way got it? Cool. All right, let me just get these tone down a little bit sweet were there. So what I'm going to do is do beauty beauty lighting on her in thirty seconds take the light payment rate at her knows what is this butterfly? Take the bottom of this bring it in clampett and I've done the most beautiful light and her cheeks you've ever seen come in with my west got ice light there's my phil how long did this take? Pump up the shadows a little bit more how did you face shape? It's shaped like this? How should you like be like this? But I don't want a light like that all time I might want it to be square. I might want it to be rectangle and look att now can you show just your face and I'll take it off, but you can see what this does watch your cheekbones okay now you put the lights back on in here if you had a beauty dish what do you do with the beauty yeah but you know what these they'll saw you a beauty dish without the barn doors oh my god what's happening now you take the barn doors you bring him down to the bottom you touch him and then you clap in the face to suck in the cheekbones this is the ultimate like I've ever done it only works with this soft box because it's a shallow soft box so the rods don't stick out so far that I showed off what else do you want? More questions see I'm into lighting though I'm into it I love it I love what it could dio I can't take it when people just do flat lighting it's like why it's not fun what you doing move the late around for different faces if you want to relax again thank you got a bunch more questions this blow through the yeah the clamp love that what would be the best starter lighting kit and reflect your kid for somebody to buy right here this light and what that is the west got td six they have a special get this light with the shallow box yemen the others same light on those air twelve by thirty six was a stripped and get those two you're in the business in a simple reflector okay maybe a popout background okay if we went into your studio is this what you is your go to set up our u k me you know what's in my studio I got probably ten dr banks just alone yeah spotlight I've been in tow lighting for thirty years I got stuff from norman that serial number zero zero one I got a photogenic so I've got you name it I got every kind of light ever made I love it that's awesome. So you'd be you'd be like while there's a museum so matt wants to know the expo disc works as white balance and getting exposure uh as an incidents meter yeah that's what doing that so it turns your camera hate daniel committed a little packet that was over there the expo you can go buy a light meter girls that worker or they've never seen a light meter because I've never used the light me because I'm older I can walk in the room and say ok that's five six sixtieth you know I mean but if not and you want to be right on the money see in the future we are going to be hybrid photographers do you know what that means? You're going to be end up you're gonna be shooting video and stills are you ever going to shoot a video? Are you ever going to shoot a video? Why not then you're going to have constant lighting if you're using strobes, I swear you're going to be lost in the sauce you cannot fix this stuff and photo shop you can't make a movie and fix it and photos that we touch up every frame this is going to separate the amateurs from the pros when it gets too when we start shooting videos because if you're not white bounds you're not right on the money and your lighting is not beautiful you're not there but anyways the export discus co comes with these filters so if you want to warm up the subject what's the opposite of warm would be blue you put a blue filter in front of the expo desk and it tricks it and warms it up wait did this and video cameras twenty years ago but they got hip to it now go ahead I had a question about the modifier and I've seen these quote unquote deep dish deep, deep, larger you know modifiers oct the boxes they come in deep insure we make what we call the zeppelin westcott does yeah the west can you put the light in there and your shape the light up and down but that is all for just butterfly light ok, that was my question is what does it mean for filing? See fashion photographers in new york? They stand in front of the light there is no lighting patterns there's no split broad short butterfly anything job down with makeup so you know you got to do is take the multiply brush and sucking the cheekbones right here I can I can hear brush the whole picture from start to finish so I really want to do it or should I just do it with lighting you got to show them proves are you going to touch up every proof to for them to figure out which one they like your fashion photographer in new york get a great big huge it's only twelve thousand for the big one get one of those stand in front of it all day long ago yeah baby click click click your baby you're going to photograph people like ideo what if you got a judge tomorrow you think a judge looks good what if he's overweight what if you got a lawyer what if you got a doctor if you gotta go in the hospital and take a picture I'm just going to sit in a studio in new york and take pictures of some fashion mile jumping around all day long what if something else happens are you ready I'm trying to get you already and fired up where you could go into anybody anyone I don't care who they are and do it all it's a beautiful light though you should play with it as a photographer you need to know all your tools all the different lenses what if he only shot with a normal land? You are a normal for tire for was a fish ideo was a three hundred millimeter d'oh compacts the background you know so it's been everything I don't care if you're photographed and dogs pats babies people people upside down on the floor you still gonna know wherever this light is the same thing happens when they're on the floor it's still on a forty five degree angle more questions go ahead and in photograph a lawyer or a doctor in their space. Would you bring all of this? Do you gotta be smart? Excuse me, ma'am? You know the nurse or the assistant does the room to the lights dim in that room. Ok? Do you think they're led? Because years ago there was no led, we knew it was constant. Is it led lighting? That means daylight these air day light bulbs if it's tungsten switch this two ton stone let's just say you're in that room and there's overhead lights everywhere. Why would you bring a hair light in the background light when they're all in the ceiling? I'll like that whole room. This light here is going to bother me on their subject, so I'm gonna take a black reflector like this actually have a bb gun I just put a black reflector over their head I'm going to keep that one light from turning them it would turn him yellow if you don't have a yellow light see a problem with the tire friends they shoot weddings, they do all this stuff they don't realize it's all puns and then they use the daylight flash the flashes daylight all their pictures their their hair's yellow just put a yellow filter in front your flash shoot the whole job inside with the yellow filter in your flash when you're outside take the yellow filter off you gotta match the color temperature just like we had that one light in here was tungsten I pushed it over in the other room I got rid of it now that's the only tungsten light in here go ahead and then you're gonna put the light where way up. I know that was my only question I was just curious, would you would you bring everything? Obviously you ask in advance what what's the lighting situation? Maybe you don't need your strip lights or the hair lights, but you would bring your background. You'd bring pretty much everything we'd see york where I've got everything in there and anything that I would need I got big, huge power packs, I got constant lights, I got different lenses, it's zizi is running the truck to go get it I've got black gobo it's I got white ones I got that big large umbrella in case they need to block out sunlight you got to be prepared lets you go there ahead of time and look it over that's really smart because what if you're in new york and you got to go on a subway that you've got to really be careful of how much equipment you're bringing? What if it's in the office you know, is that going to happen in the morning? Is it in the afternoon? Is the window like coming in? If you're in office and there's window like coming in, all you need is one of those reflectors that's a diffuser you go to bed bath and I'm beyond get the suction cup of the little hook, you stick it on the window, hook the diffuser on there you could let the ross on coming because you defused it go to bed bath beyond get all those hooks, the suction cup with the hook because reflectors have the hook look, you know, you know what that's far this is for bed bath and beyond hook. I have the hooks and all the trees in the backyard and I sent him on there and they're all tweet through every position, all right, go ahead, more questions, more question, and then we've got to wrap up I always have problems with even white backgrounds I have two lights on both sides and the photographs are always having great corner it's ending up with great corners we didn't talk a lot about that ground just walk us through, you know? So when you light a background and you have your reflector on your light, you're reflector cannot contaminate the subject so let's say this is your light, it can't be here lighting your subject, so when you like the background you've got to turn this off of it so further away, the more even the lights going to be in the background if you're too close that's why the first thing I did was try to move the subject too far away from the background I could because I can I'll have mohr leeway back here and normally you feather this back there. I use umbrellas back here with black backing, so no light comes back at me because the umbrella is the widest throwing light of them all put on brawl on their back it up a little bit? Any final thoughts, jim as we're wrapping my final thought would be I'm only here to get you guys I'm fired to do on my own you didn't hear me talk about myself what I do or anything is a lecture if I placed out here to be a lecture I'm on lee here to give you I was lucky, I got a lot of people, and I love my job. I'm mortar fire that I am right now. Think about photography. You're never going, you're never going to get bored with it, because there's too many challenges out there and it's, great, I'm still on fire there. So much more techniques like these sima graphs, you're going to see me dio and there's so much stuff that I do to keep myself excited about big, great students. Nobody did this to me, but I think I want to thank creative life for having me on here and give me a chance to try to help everybody out. And I want to think west got sigma, panasonic and some of the people that have sponsored me throughout the years, so think thanks so much, really appreciate it.

Class Description

Join award-winning photographer and 25-year studio owner, James Schmelzer, for Lighting Solutions for Portrait Photography. 

In this class, James will teach you how to light everyday people and not just perfect models. He will break down the specifics on where the lighting should be and why it needs to be there. He’ll explain how high, how far away, why you change the distance, how do you light groups, and what size light should you use? 

After the basics, you will learn the seven advanced lighting patterns and why you need to use them. You’ll learn how to analyze a face and decide where to place the light to minimize flaws and flatter your subject and which lens will achieve the style you are after.  


  1. Class Introduction
  2. The Distance of Light from the Subject

    Explore the different results you get when you adjust the distance between your backdrop, subject, and light source.

  3. Positioning the Lights
  4. Studying the Patterns of Light
  5. Using Reflectors & Fabrics in Light
  6. Lighting Real People & Situations



First off - the instructor's personality is not for everyone. I personally found him hilarious. He's your typical brash, cocky New Yorker AKA my kind of people. As for the class, its very instructive. He doesn't show off every single lighting style he mentions (loop, broad, short, butterfly, etc) in exquisite detail but that's because the purpose is to use whatever light makes your subject look the best. He goes through each one, but very quickly. His two main lighting examples are butterfly and rembrandt. The portraits he takes are very high school senior style, but the information he provides is incredibly useful for any other kind of lighting situation. There is a boat load of excellent information in this class; you just gotta know that what he's telling you is applicable across the board.

a Creativelive Student

Fantastic course! Loved the instructors sense of humor and direct, straight to the point approach!