Creating Soft Lighting for Portraits Takes Practice

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I'm obsessed with creating soft lighting in portraits. I want sharp details, and soft lighting, but what is the best way to do that? I read, practice, watch videos, take classes, teach classes, and still I'm in pursuit of the best lighting for my clients. 

I'm almost 15 years into photography, my work has been published, exhibited and purchased many times and I am GRATEFUL for that. Still, it's not enough, I want to get better and better.

We are stuck in Covid-hell, likely to be locked down again, so that means models are out.  Sorry dear reader, you are stuck with my mug for the time being.


For this session, I was practicing how to get rim lighting to camera right and highlight the lines on  the jaw. The best way to do this is to turn down your lights and just work on one piece at a time, layering the light. Is this image too dark over all, sure is, but the point is to practice and see the rim lighting on the right so that when I turn the lights brighter, there are subtle lights on the face highlighting the features. Take a look at my DEVELOPING MEN series for a sense of the lighting I prefer on male portraits.


If you are a gear hound like me, and it's fun to play with gear, here's the list I used for this shoot. Aforementioned Fuji X-T4 and 56 f/1.2. Three Flashpoint stores, Flashpoint R2 controller for Fuji, Scrim and C-stands from Adorama. @Manfrotto be free tripod.

Hats off to Westcott for the X-Drop background. I used their frame and some clamps and put a different backdrop on using clamps instead of their backdrop with eyelets but it worked great and I set the stand and back drop up in 5 minutes or less and took it down in 5 or less. That's huge because it means I am likely to keep shooting a lot. In my space right now I want to be put up and take down my portrait set up in about 10 minutes.  Keep your batteries charged all the time and you can be ready to go when the inspiration strikes. 


If you'd like help with your Portrait Lighting, sign up for one of my workshops which I will continue with, post-Covid. You can text the word PHOTOSBYKAG to 22828 to get on my mailing list. 

Thanks for reading! 

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