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Lighting Solutions for Portrait Photography

Lesson 5 of 6

Using Reflectors & Fabrics in Light


Lighting Solutions for Portrait Photography

Lesson 5 of 6

Using Reflectors & Fabrics in Light


Lesson Info

Using Reflectors & Fabrics in Light

All right, so let's get to the beginning again first thing I asked you to put the soft backs back on here we're gonna I'm gonna go I'm gonna take a portrait so I went through most of the rheiman reasons and rules ok, so the first thing again I'm gonna move her hair guys do not be afraid of here I used to be like I wouldn't let any my buddies come by the studio because I thought they laugh at me if they saw me fixing here they'd be allowing them to you but you know what it's common sense if you're gonna go on photo shop and you're going to fix certain things, why not fix it right now many of you have anybody working for you I got a whole crew in the back okay, now these people working in the back all of them have a job should be like the may take man I don't need them I should be fixed you know everything's perfect it doesn't need fixing, but photo shop still somebody has to develop bone that's why I don't take three hundred pictures if I was to give a new student camera right now I giv...

e a one gig card said go shoot your life away you you think you're gonna get a job with me taking thirty thousand pictures and I'm gonna pay you to process them every student I talked to just take two pictures even that where's my finger out two pictures and rough day I think I'll go get my size and hand stuff just he's so the first thing you gotta think about is what's the crux side to put the light on what's the wrong side so again like in the beginning I told you if you put the light over here can you see the shadows coming from what if she had big banks that you see the show is going across her face I'm just trying to make a point obviously here is not perfect you put the light on the side opposite well at the part because then the light will go underneath her bangs you could put it back behind your ear from it then later go underneath the banks and you won't have any problems all right let's put the soft box back on here way doing you guys still follow me so I like this light fixture because you can pop the sign here if you want to just go buy some light bulbs go do it but again they're photographic like bob and if you want to challenge yourself to use light to do lighting do it with light bulb don't use a ten foot soft box you know we're gonna learn anything so put this on here I can't see here we go now we're gonna do is some really cool stuff all right, so we've got our light, and like I said, in the beginning, the distance up close is ok, but don't put the light up close to make lighting soft. It should be done by the size and distance I'm gonna bring the soft box and really close. You can see what I've done to knock off bottom balde's, and I'm gonna turn the power up on this so that more bulbs are being used. You know, the greatest light of all time is tungsten lighting trust in life is the best. You know why nobody stuck with tungsten light? You can't dimmitt if I went to the ballroom over here, down the place at the ritz carlton or whatever, it took a picture in the ballroom it's all tungsten lighting lights, the dim oh, I would do is change these detention of bulbs, and then you don't have to demean you turn the switch is up and down to control the brightness, so if you're looking for the ultimate light, it would be this because you could put tungsten bulbs in there and you condemn him by switching them up and down. Still the best. Okay, now one on one and taking a portrait is just turn your body that way you never turned the body towards the light. Why? Because right now your eyes going to go here instead of there so how do you darken up if this is a bride you don't name the dress at the light if you have the groom then put him he's in black put him closer to the light but you don't put the bride next to the light and the groom with the dark tuxedo on the other side if someone's tanned and someone's not ten put him over here the person that's not that's not tend you know what you do right? I just slaton tom haiti needs a color whack him a few times that'll do it every time okay, so now we've got the light and we're gonna turn her body away from the light keep turning cook now she's already in shade the front of her is already or I will never go there is going to go to her face ok, so now we're going to take this light we're going to raise it up a little bit this is the axis of your life where is the brightest portion of your life? It's embarrassing they even think I have to talk about this but honestly photographers the lights aimed at the floor sorry, but I gotta talk about there's lighting rotate it off her shoulder too in your face to me just a little bit beautiful all right let's talk about here a little bit this is very important stuff for photographers and know how to fix here you do me a favor I'm just going to this to you first I spend my whole day fixing here most important thing you could do is learn how to fix here it's not that hard I just got home shopping network producing the videos for hair extensions they're all looking at me like what are you doing fixing the hair we've got here people here I'm like I do this every day I don't know I don't know I don't know how down like design it but I can fix right here's and okay but if you write this down I asked a guy so I say a few words with help you every day go to the back of your head find the center of your hair and bring it forward okay now you know why we did that so that both sides of the same thickness what if it's thinner over here than there now where's your are going to go pray here to her armpit so that's why you take the hair and you hide the armpit these air I look at photographs and like nobody's fixing anything what happened to the art of photography? Anybody could take a picture what makes you so great do you know the minute you start paying attention to the details they know they have a pro and when the parents are in the room or anybody that's watching you you can hear him goche god okay so right here you're top of your top is something sticking up right there little details now on the sides of your outfit over here and over there pull us up a little bit if the girl's got a lot here pull it up beer dead pull it up a little bit you don't need the eyes going this is a portrait you wanted to be good. Okay, now she's got a little bit of her ear sticking out here pull the hair over that your ear is not part of the face the ears not the front of plane to the face the nose, the chin and the forehead both cheeks not tears so watch this let's actually put this back turning that way so I think he sees you better see her ear do you want to light the ear? No you take the light, you skim it off the ear you turn it to the air goes dark does that help you see that look great in that camera see that you're being lit see it not being lit okay, now take your shoulder this one turn it, keep turning, turn your whole body a little more got shoulder up, bring it forward and look how she's letting her ears not okay, now I'm gonna turn us back towards my camera because we're going to end up taking a picture of this. Okay, now put your here over here behind your ear. This is a silver reflector. This is my ok over here. This is his shiny as it gets. And do you know why a photographer's using a silver umbrella I've never figured out there's no rhyme or reason why you should ever use a silver umbrella unless you're thirty feet away this is why turn your face that way you're not tilting the bottom up. This is dumb. Why I got explain this because no one shoots pool when you play pool it's the angle of incidence equals okay? We're using a reflector you have to tilt the bottom up like, oh, my god is not doing anything bring it closer. Well, oh, you really need is a soft white reflector and look how that works but you have to tell the bottom up or you reflect is never gonna work. Now when you're using your reflect is you don't like the ear ear supposed to be in shadow the same brightness as shadows. So you bring the reflector way up here and then you try to tilt it forward and then the reflect is in the way of your camera so I developed this trick along time ago trump it's called the potato chip were twisted up I did that so that I could get the camera through there so there's no rhyme or reason why you should be using a silver reflector unless you're way over here and you want to reflect it okay, you don't use a gold reflector where's the gold when you got when daniel, you don't use a gold reflector if your main lights not gold because now you're going to do is make the side of her face goal doesn't work and again you warm people up in the winter so if you're outside she's in the shade you put your reflective way appear you tilt that back in they have green eyes you ever see a photographer outside? Use the reflector up this high you have most don't do this it's not son come off one of the easier it is high as you can you're aiming at the sun tilted down see the same lighting pattern I'm doing right now is the same thing I do in the studio it's never flat it's always a pie that's great, but don't do that in the summer time there already warm silver you can use if you're really far away all right, so let's, put this on the stand and let's fill this in okay, so there's the reflector here's my main light now turn just your face back towards may now you're off it's way too far away from you so pull it to your back so I can't stop looking at the details turn this way got it your eye should be constantly going tentative tentative tentative center what's wrong what's wrong what could we fix what we fix okay this's hairspray I use hair spray every single day you know what I do I'll tell you how to fix their hair so again behind the back of your head find the center of you here bring this out next thing you d'oh bring both sides forward again this is what girls do they do this fix your hair just fix the watch so the best way to do it did you take the inside here? The hardest thing you gotta deal with right now is hair extensions because if you let that little short hair stick out in here you're in trouble so you do this you make it nice and thick. The other thing is my daughter will this to me but other girls well, if you need the hair thicker you flip it upside down you read underneath not on the outside you know where these kids they fixed they read it on the outside how am I going to touch that up? Take this you spend this inward it's always the n word's been ok then you take once you got the hair fixed you never spray their hair I use the light hair spray so that I don't get in trouble you do this you have these little flyaways you fixed the flyaways around the perimeter all day long this is all I do what if you had one hair going across their face then you spray your finger here cuts these ones do inside thing I don't need hair stylist at my studio I don't need it I could do it all myself I gotta whip through the stuff I do a kid an hour when you know do you think I got all day to play for trump if you only do one appointment you want to sit in photo shop all day long gone but you do have any friends I don't know any photographers have friends besides other photographer friends are you involved in your community? Are you doing charities? Are you out there? You can't do that stuff if after six o'clock when you close your doors you're still sitting at home doing photo shop fix it right now get it writes not that hard alright so turn your face towards me and all these little stray hairs in her neck that little stuff in there all that stuff are you ever going to fix that coming with the reflector now he only had one light there you go one liner reflector how easy it is to get if you had another light put it opposite the main light years ago for tire foods would put a boom on top of the person's hair they put a boom up there we call that a bull light you got a bowl of light on top of their head what about all this hair? Where does the shine happened on the hair it's here it's not on the top go to the store and look at all the stuff they put out for shining the hair they buying stuff all day long to make their hair shine I could do that right here see this soft box got a grin in here thie grid you guys could see us right? The grids in here to keep the light going exactly where you want not all over the room you want shine take the diffuser off what does the diffuser dio it gets rid of shine and it spreads this will take to shine away her hair to get rid of this oh you don't want a light on the shoulders okay leave it halfway part that's going to hit the shoulders leave it in there you show me one light that does this you go get anything you want show me anything easier than this do you think I want to do it? Okay. I was taking pictures at fifteen. What? I'm no better photographer. Now on this faster. I got stuff to dio, right? I got friends to hang around and stuff. Okay, so these two lights are opposite. This is going to come in with that grid lighter hair, and then I'm gonna control if you're really feathering your light up there like I do. It's really feathered off this side of her. Michael dark. Take another one for, you know, over here and let this light the other set of her hair. Now we're gonna like the background. There is no rhyme or reason or why you should have a light rate behind the subject. Put it over here. Do you ever see anybody put a stand behind the subject? Take a portrait. Ok, cool. What's going to happen if you did a full length where you put your life stand now what if you did a three quarter where you put your lights stand? Now you got to get used to put in that light off to the side and spotlighting it in because then you could do anything you want and you're already there, but remember it's, just like the main line once you go to amen. You can't a man at the center because it's going to be brighter you have to aim it past center to compensate for the fact with life's tough senate everything in your life is going to be the exact same thing where we going to my well, how far away is likely to be? How big are the people? How big of a light source do we need? You know the greatest thing ever event? Hey daniel hamilton, bro greatest thing ever happened to the photo industry was this great big, huge large umbrella if you had one light, one light modifier you could buy you tell me anything that would even company compete with this for one hundred dollars seven foot if I put all you underneath this in the rain outside ceo I walked across the street five dollars each a couple times I pay for it when you have a light mist like you have here sometimes it doesn't rain in seattle it's a mist put this over him and you're still taking pictures where they want it excite put over me, I don't care about them I don't want to get wet, you could bounce light off it, you can shoot like through it the other day I was putting it in the sun on the ground with shady out or she was in the shade let the light bounce back into the shade if you've got your flash on camera and you want to use it, I'll stand outside with you in your flash back at me and let it bouncing in the subject. The bigger the light, the softer, the like. This the greatest thing that ever hit? Look how easy it is to use.

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!