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Portrait Photography Fundamentals

Lesson 35 of 61

Introduction to Lighting


Portrait Photography Fundamentals

Lesson 35 of 61

Introduction to Lighting


Lesson Info

Introduction to Lighting

Why do we need to create light? I mean I have a camera sitting at home, it can do 500,000 ISO. It doesn't even need light to take a picture. Give me some good reasons why we need to create light. Because if the technology is getting better and better, why do we really need to know how to create light? But, when you have your own light, you can create shadows. Why do we need shadows? Shadows bring out the texture in things because photography is two-dimensional, it's not three-dimensional. So if we are ever to see shape on anything, you have to have a highlight and a shadow. That being able to mold and create your shadows, that's really why I like light. It's not because I want to get a great exposure, which it does help if you have no light at all, but I want to put the shadows where I want them to make it look like to simulate the real world. Because in the real world, what is the earth lit by? The sun, one big, constant light source that's off camera. A lot of my lighting techniques ...

... When you look at it and you want it to ... Oh wow! I can't tell whether that's video light, window light. That's what I'm going for. I want it to look like you can't even tell what type of lighting that I'm using. That's when you know you're getting to be a light master, is when you start to feel your photos are like that, and people just really can't tell what you're using. But that's learning how to create shadows. I can tell you how to get the right exposure in one shot. I did that in crazy, stupid light and that was ... That's easy. Getting the light to fall correctly on your subject is a lot difficult. What is that? Lower the ambient light. A lot of times when you're shooting in a flat situation, you have to add contrast in there too. That's part of adding shadows to it. Depending on where you are, you can take away all the ambient light that's there, like what we did in the five wow shots. I just purposely took away all the ambient light by doing a camera setting where I made it so that there's no ambient light and I'm using just my existing light so then I have full control of the situation. But, sometimes you want some of that ambient light in there maybe to light the background up, or whatever, but you want full control of that. Whether you want to take some of the ambient light away to create contrast, like if you're in a flat light situation, or you want to add it because you see a nice, beautiful city lights in the background. You've got to be able to control those things. And being able to control the light on your subject, allows you to take full control of your lighting situation. Adding catchlights. That's huge, especially when you're doing portraits. If you don't add a catchlight really it's not a portrait, in my mind. You kind of really have to have that. Post processing comes alive when you have good lighting. That's part of my signature post processing style is that because I light my subjects, everyone of my subjects I try to light, have a certain signature lighting on it so when I bring that in to post processing, it's way easy. It feels like, man whatever you do it just looks good. But I find that those shots that I struggle with, oh I don't know what to do here in post-processing, or anything that I try just doesn't look good, it's usually because the lighting is too flat, and I can't do anything with it at that point. Let's take an example of lighting. So if I didn't have my lighting and I was out here in Hawaii taking a picture of my friend. Often when the light is bright in the background, I've got a choice, either I correctly expose the subject, or I expose the background. And since there's so much light in that background there, if I expose for that sky, she would be dark. So most of us just expose for the subject because that's who we want to see. But if you have a second light source, you can come in and get both. Don't you want the best of both worlds? So you set your background, she becomes dark, and then you just add in light as you need it. You shouldn't complicate yourself in regards to lighting. Lighting is almost just like using a reflector. And when you use a reflector it's like you move in a little closer to make it brighter, or move it a little bit further to make it not as bright if you're shooting in manual. That's why I recommend manual to shoot with because it's really easy, it's just like using a reflector.

Class Description

Want to be able to go into any situation with your camera and have the confidence to know you’ll get the shot? Award-Winning photographer Scott Robert Lim goes in-depth on the four foundational elements you must conquer if you want to develop your creativity and style.

Scott will give you the guidelines you need to master:

  • Lighting
  • Posing
  • Composition
  • Post-Processing

Once you master these fundamentals of portraits, you free up your mind to get creative and ultimately get the shot.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. 5 Shots That WOW
  3. Four Fundamentals of Photography
  4. Create a Visual Impact with Composition
  5. Importance of Foreground and Background
  6. Create Depth in Landscape Images
  7. Photos Don't Always Follow the Rules
  8. Composition Practice Exercise
  9. Composition Critique of Student Images
  10. Keys to Posing
  11. Shoot: Classic Elegance Female Pose
  12. Shoot: Modern Female Pose
  13. Shoot: Rollover Female Pose
  14. Female Hands & Arms Poses Overview
  15. Shoot: Hands and Arms Poses for Female
  16. Seven Posing Guidelines
  17. Headshots Poses with Male Model
  18. Shoot: Headshot for Male Model
  19. Shoot: Sitting Poses for Male Model
  20. Shoot: Leaning Poses for Male Model
  21. Shoot: Standing Poses for Male Model
  22. Keys to Couples Posing
  23. Shoot: Couples Posing
  24. Couples Transitional Posing Overview
  25. Shoot: Transitional Posing
  26. Keys to Group Posing
  27. Accordion Technique with Groups
  28. Shoot: Accordion Technique
  29. Shoot: Best Buds Pose
  30. Shoot: Talk with Your Hands Pose
  31. Shoot: Lock Arms and Hold Hands Pose
  32. Run at the Camera and Dance in Your Seat Poses
  33. Shoot: Pod Method Pose
  34. Posing Critique of Student Images
  35. Introduction to Lighting
  36. Soft vs Hard Light
  37. Difficult Lighting Situations
  38. Bright Light Techniques
  39. Overcast Light Techniques
  40. Low Light Techniques
  41. Lighting Techniques Q&A
  42. Drama Queen Lighting
  43. Laundry Basket Lighting
  44. Make it Rain Lighting
  45. Smart Phone Painting with Light
  46. Mini LED Bokeh Lighting
  47. Choose the Right Lighting System
  48. Hybrid Flash System
  49. Innovative Accessories
  50. Gear Overview
  51. Theatrical Post-Processing
  52. Ten Keys to Post-Processing
  53. Essential Skills to Post-Processing
  54. Headshot Post-Processing
  55. Bright Light Post-Processing
  56. Flat Light Post-Processing
  57. Low Light Post-Processing
  58. Introduction to Fine Art Post-Processing
  59. Light & Airy Fine Art Post-Processing
  60. Dark & Moody Fine Art Post-Processing
  61. Post-Processing Critique of Student Images


Vitor Rademaker

This course is amazing! Scott is extremely straightforward. He goes directly to practical problems, tips and etc. He explains every thing very clearly, and he is also very funny and charismatic, making you laugh as you learn. He shows that you don't need a lot of expensive gear to make very nice pictures. So I have saved some money as well, cause I was about to buy some gear that I wouldn't need right now. It is for sure one of the best photography courses I have ever attended to! I highly recommend! Thanks a lot Scott! You are the best!


I have purchased a number of classes, this being one of them. The quality of the information was good and the level at which Scott spoke was appropriate for me. Having a course sylibus would add greatly to the value, which usually is not part of the programs I've purchased including this one, unless I've missed it. I believe the speaker should be required to provide one. After watching the videos, much of material can be recaptured by seeing it in writing. I would like to hear back from Creativelive their thoughts. In sum, good topic, good speaker, good technical audio and video quality by Creativelive


Another fantastic class with Scott Robert Lim! The combination of his knowledge, willingness to share, passion & entertaining personality makes him a top choice for photography education. Learning not only the "what", but the "why" & "how" can transform one's entire approach towards MAKING pictures. A constant inspiration to get better & better through practice.