How to Create Neon Background Effects in Your Studio Portraits

It’s always interesting to see how gelled lighting can shape the aesthetic of a portrait, especially when we can match that colored gel with a small amount of post production to create an interesting background to a scene. Here’s a quick photography breakdown and post processing tutorial that will help you create a neon sign inspired portrait with just a few complementary colored gels and Photoshop.

Gavin Hoey along with Adorama lead us through a thorough and concise workflow that will help you create interesting and unique portraits using a three light setup in an overall confined space. Hoey does a fantastic job of showing his behind the scenes setup and lighting information to garner the base imagery to add to his backgrounds in his post processing in Adobe Photoshop. Just a reminder, Hoey provides those backgrounds for free on his website so definitely check out the video to get the free download. 

The second half of the video shows us the post processing, where we see there is only a few layer masking techniques and some personal touches to really make the portrait come together. The emphasis in photographing the right lighting at capture to mimic the background in post makes the ability to take a stunning portrait like what Hoey has created easy enough for any photographer to do. 

Will you be trying out this background technique with some gelled portraits? If you already add gel lighting in your portrait photography, please share some of your work below.

JT Blenker's picture

JT Blenker, Cr. Photog., CPP is a Photographic Craftsman and Certified Professional Photographer who also teaches workshops throughout the USA focusing on landscape, nightscape, and portraiture. He is the Director of Communications at the Dallas PPA and is continuing his education currently in the pursuit of a Master Photographer degree.

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