A Guide to Rembrandt Lighting for Portraits

Rembrandt lighting is one of the most classic and fundamental lighting techniques in photography, and you will still see it used quite commonly today. This great video will show you how to create a Rembrandt lighting setup for portrait work. 

Coming to you from Westcott Lighting, this helpful video will show you show you how to create a Rembrandt lighting portrait setup. Rembrandt lighting is overwhelmingly one of the most common lighting setups, and it is also a great one for beginners to try, as it can be done with just a single light source. It is a good idea to work on mastering simpler lighting setups before you try to tackle more complex setups. This is because it is important to understand how parameters like subject-to-source distance and positioning affect your images, and it is most clear how these things act when working with just one light. Understanding these will help you create and refine more complicated and intricate lighting setups in the future, and in the meantime, Rembrandt lighting is a tried and true setup that you can get quite a bit of mileage out of. Check out the video above for the full rundown on the technique. 

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5 Comments

Dan Grayum's picture

Rembrandt Lighting, is that where that one painter dude got his name?

Jeff Walsh's picture

I love this comment

Yep. He always painted at ISO 400.

Ansel Spear's picture

I wonder what Rembrandt called it? I'll guess chiaroscuro.

John Seigner's picture

The best way to learn portature is at the art gallery. Rembrandt like most old masters almost always included a very small kicker light in the eye of his subject. You can replicate this with a small direct flash several stops below the over all exposure. It adds sparkle and liveliness to the subject.