How to Light Overhead Portraits

Adorama TV is always bringing easy-to-understand tips and tricks to photographers with a plethora of education and tutorials. In the video, Gavin Hoey shows us how to adjust our lighting to where we are shooting our subject.

Lighting is a large part of any photographer’s journey, and learning directional lighting patterns is a major part of growth for any image-maker. When lighting portraits, a common guideline is to have your light at a 45-degree angle above and 45-degree angle left or right of the subject, but how should you light your subject if they are not perpendicular to the ground?  In this new quick tip, Hoey takes us on location to create a surreal portrait and shows how to lightcorrectly for the scene and orientation of that subject. Don’t stop at just the lighting segment, as Hoey goes beyond lighting and behind the scenes of the shoot and shows us how to post-process the image and create a different depth of field than what was originally captured.

Going beyond the information in the video, if you’ve ever photographed any subject that is laying down on the ground and the image didn’t quite make the impact you were originally intending, look at your lighting pattern and direction. For most subjects, we want the the face to be the primary focal point of the image. We can achieve this by having that part of the body closer to the light source than any other part, but we also need to take into account the angle of the light to create the intended pattern of light, like loop, Rembrandt, or Paramount lighting. 

Have you photographed an overhead portrait and did you position your key light in the same place and at the same angle? What were your takeaways from Hoey’s newest video?

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1 Comment

Joe Santos's picture

Why F11, I’m new to flash photography.