Do You Know the Difference Between Broad Light and Short Light?

There are several different ways to light your subject in portrait photography. You probably have heard the different terms or styles of lighting and have seen them before, but do you know the difference between broad light and short light?

In this quick video, photographer Jeff Carpenter from Readylight Media demonstrates the difference between broad light and short light in a virtual environment using set.a.light 3D. From this, we can see what the lighting set up looks like in relation to the model and the effect it has. 

Why would you use one style of lighting over the other? Carpenter does give the advantages and disadvantages between the two lighting setups and ultimately it's your choice depending on your project and of course your subject. Are you looking to have a more flattery light fall onto your subject or maybe you want to elongate and slim the subject's face? The subject can play a big part in which style of lighting you want if you are looking to either accentuate or reduce certain features.  

Usually, do you find yourself using board light or short light more? What are some factors you consider when selecting the style of lighting for your portraits? Let us know in the comments below!

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michaeljin's picture

Nifty software.

Tom Fuldner's picture

If all things are equal (but they never are), I’ve always found short lighting far more interesting.

Rod Kestel's picture

Nice. I learned something, which is good. I have fondness for more moody, short lighting but has not occurred to me how it changes the subject.

Of course how you pose the person is another factor. Eg if they have a prominent nose it's prolly best have them to face the camera.

Rod Kestel's picture

Ummmm, because you used broad instead of short lighting? That's a bit severe. Suggest to him that he closes his aperture.

michaeljin's picture


Deleted Account's picture

What is the difference Between Broad Light and Short Light?
Broad light is… broad
Short light is… short

Did I win something?