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Short and Broad Lighting for Portraiture

Posted on: June 20, 2017 at 4:28 am

Short and Broad lighting are two very broad or general categories of portrait lighting. KAPA students learn this when they begin shooting their first studio portraits. To put it in the simplest of terms, broad lighting lights the ‘broad’ side of the face, or the side of the model’s face that is most in view to the camera, and short lighting lights the opposite side. In most fashion portraits you will see broad lighting at work.

The degree of ‘broadness’ or ‘shortness’ of the light can of course be adjusted by positioning the light adequately. Check out the images of actress Sana Khan, photographed by KAPA mentor Karthik Srinivasan. Broad lighting is used on both images, with a well defined shadow on one image, to give a high fashion cut to the face, and highlights on the other image.

Try variations of both short and broad lighting by positioning the light towards the camera and away from the camera, a little behind the model. If the light goes completely behind the model, it becomes a silhouette! Further, you could try giving an extra something to your portraits by adding highlights once your key light is set in place, be it in the short or broad position. Use bounces and reflectors to soften shadows, or avoid them altogether to get a high contrast image as with the first image of Sana Khan (sharp shadow towards the right side of her face to give it a chiseled look).