How to Shoot Backlit Portraits

Backlighting in portraiture offers a huge range of creative possibilities, whether adding a bit of shimmer to your subject's hair, including a dramatic sunset in the frame, or one of many other options. However, the use of backlighting takes some special considerations to ensure you get the results you have in mind. This helpful video tutorial will show you what you need to know to maximize your image quality. 

Coming to you from Nathan Elson, this awesome video tutorial will show you how to approach backlighting a portrait subject. As you will see, Elson employs a reflector here. This is because when using backlighting, the brightest part of the frame is usually the background. This means that in order to keep from blowing out the highlights, you have to underexpose your subject, sometimes by a significant amount. Adding some light on them can bring the overall exposure back in balance and prevent you from having to make extreme adjustments in post-processing that will reduce image quality. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Elson. 

If you would like to continue learning about how to light a portrait, be sure to check out "Illuminating The Face: Lighting for Headshots and Portraits With Peter Hurley!"

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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