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Lighting Solutions for Portrait Photography

Lesson 4 of 6

Studying the Patterns of Light


Lighting Solutions for Portrait Photography

Lesson 4 of 6

Studying the Patterns of Light


Lesson Info

Studying the Patterns of Light

So let's study some patterns of life and what's going to be really cool is once you learn this, you're going to get to the spot where all that face needs a butterfly light that face needs brem brand why knows they need split light you know you're going, you're gonna learn your you know, do this I'm not trying to say I'm the best photographer I have no idea there's some mornings where I go hey, I'll be right back and I'll like put, you know, I'll take a couple pictures with light moved around and I did I got I don't know about the greatest today help me out I'm going to be right back and I'll go look through my camera all look at that oh, split lights the best you know, if I'm not awake didn't drink enough coffee you know, you got days you're up on it and they were all the same okay, so right now this is called butterfly like great, but nobody really tells you exactly what is butterfly light how far should that shadow come down? How much of a shadow do you need? Okay, so if you do this,...

see the shadows into her lip that's, not butterfly like shadows erase member shadows, hide things she's got pretty lips. Why would you hide those lips so let's do this that's a perfect shadow under her nose here's most people's butterfly light this is not butterfly like there's no shadow so you've got to make sure that you got that light at the right height the right distance now her eyes don't have any cuts lights in them ah, professional photographer will look for catch lights in the eyes hey, if they got big fiberglass is never going to happen now they double up the eyelashes you're never going to see a catch like but she doesn't have any so she's fine I could get the cuts light either so watch what I'm gonna tell her chin down just a little now your eyes look up a little higher so now I'm gonna lower this down till I see that sparkle in the eyes there it is you could put the lighting on the face but if there's no catch light it's never gonna look sharp it's never going to pop the catch light is the whole secret to the ice so remember you don't know the correct height to you study and get the cuts light to show there's no catch light right there so I'm gonna lower it down is the catch light lookout greater face looks with this this is butterfly light now if you take the butterfly light and you modify it which means move it to the side now see the shadow from her nose where is that shadow going? Where's the finish line the edge of the lip is the finish line so if you this is luke lighting and if you close that shadow in that be rembrandt what kind of like remember have no he didn't have a window that looks to me like he had a trap door and ceiling that's why the light was up so high ram brandt lighting you don't tell the people smile smile the lights up so high urine to create bags under their eyes you will never see a painting with rembrandt lighting with a big smile you just don't do it that's when you bring the light down the loop lighting and now she can smile and the light's not is high okay so that's rembrandt now turn your face that way cool I don't know where the cameras that but if it's over here is that the camera on the close up okay, so turn your face this way I try to keep this is this in your way that's rembrandt broad anybody have a hundred dollar bill on him? Come on you want to put one out? All right let's take a look because this stuffs in front of you every day that what's that guy's name look at the lighting on his face that's called rembrandt broad now I'm not going to show you a one dollars bill because the lighting just it just goes downhill on one dog don't don't carry none of those with you you don't want to look at the lighting is not good that's rembrandt broad okay then turn your face so you're this you're the main camera right? Turn your face towards him that split lighting if you turn your face that way that's broad lighting broadest part of the face is being lit but keep your eyes straight with your nose if he can wherever your noses and then turn your face this way keep turning that's brought. Okay, big deal but let me show you exactly how to do it the cleanest way because this is stuff took me thirty years no one told me this stuff look great at that camera again when you do split lighting, your light can be down low because there's no cut its you're gonna split the face in half. Now you gotta watch that you don't make a black eye in here that's from the split like not being in the right spot. I'm going to bring the light forward try to clean up that shadow in there you guys see that watch how far I bring it to clean that up the best I can if the light hits the other eye you pushed it to your max which is what you want to do push it to the max back it up a little bit that's the cleanest split like you'll ever do what's the most beautiful thing you see in this girl right now I love the top of her lips the club in there look how beautiful that is you want to that race that's gone you'll never see it again let's go back to split look at her she's beautiful look at her lips every time you move the light around the face your and showing different features now watch this I'm going to take the light just moving around her face watch what happens watch how many different ways she's going to look well I got different lenses I can change the look fine about doing it we're lighting not just pull your lips a little bit we're little happy it's a little in the mouth so you have a boyfriend? Do you have any animals? Pets? What do you have what's his name happy when you photograph people what do you say it all you say say cheese now you bring him to the happy moments she's a lot of land right now shouldn't even know I'm here she's taken her mind totally off get your picture taken that's the art of taking photographs you have to talk to people okay so we learned that now let's that's she's too pretty so let's mess her up a little bit let's see if we can correct it so your left hand put it on top of you knows just like like you had a bump on your nose okay here she is here's your light and every studios never moves got dustin it's never been moved go across united states the light has never moved ever she's been every studio in the u s I could pick on us because I'm from here she says to everyone I got bubba my nose I'm not photogenic I don't like my picture can anybody take my money she wants to you know you know how it works right do a good job you get paid she's never given anybody any money over money so how do we fix it what would you do what position split brought your butterfly rembrandt what no would you play butterfly's got put you figured out you are miss photogenic now see I can't bring people up here and start picking out I'd rather make the mistake on omen and then explain it it's easier and it's nicer and it's you know what I mean but when people come to your studio you got chat with him a little bit well they got a small eye and a big guy okay? I'm gonna photograph from over here other knows a little you know this is what saying in my brain I know the little crooked I'm gonna shoot him into that knows so it doesn't look either way while they got double chin up we're going to go get my ladder I'm gonna have a structure the art of a photographer is you're a doctor we are doctors we really are because if you're just going to do this flat lighting all day long you're not a photographer sorry you shouldn't be taking pictures of people I got a friend of mine he shoots pictures out the window of his car I know you're not a photographer get out where's your rule of thirds where's your leading lines where's your composition where's the art same thing the photographs moved the light around ok what's the number one thing people don't like about themselves it's their nose number one thing people don't like if you could figure out how make people's knows this look good you're gonna make money you ever heard of elizabeth taylor? Do you know she had her own photographer? Okay, she brought that photographer everywhere bring me I'll go. Why did she bring him along? He knew how to photograph for women don't you know the same hairstylist all time you find somebody that does it right you got a personal shopper at nordstrom's or whatever the person gets it right they know your look your style I gotta nordstrom's like, I don't know what I like. This is what I like over here, okay? I find somebody it's dresses like me and then they know what to do. Once you find that person, they will stick with you. You think you're going to make money and photography what's the secret make somebody look good, they will stick with you. You're going to have a customer for life. He got these people saying I'll send him a card sent in this and I'm that you don't have to schmooze them do that. When you're taking the picture, they won't come back. I went to a restaurant the other night. I think I can get right. You think I'll ever go back? They don't ask the right questions and do all right don't even have any decent wine. I'm never going back the place that I like, I'll go back one hundred times. Okay, now your nose is really not the acute it's really wide so take your right hand put on the side of your nostril like you've got a big white ok, she's got big white knows I'm great I'm just gonna light it so it's bigger light makes things bigger split light is for white noses the her nostrils in the shadow, you're never going to know she's got big, white knows now. She loves her little cute knows now. Got me. You could put your finger back down, okay, so that's, the basics of that, how we don't, you got, I'm just getting you into. I can't show you everything, because you have to hang out with me every day and see what I got to go through. And then, you know, I mean

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!