How Light Diffusion Can Affect Your Portrait’s Mood

Emotion in your portrait work comes from your subject almost entirely, for lots of obvious reasons. That said, other elements in your portraits can affect and enhance their overall mood—especially the lighting. Simple decisions about light diffusion can alter or augment the mood you are after. There are differing opinions on what light diffusion does to a portrait’s mood. It’s subjective. But there are some tried and true light diffusion techniques that work consistently to evoke or enhance specific moods in human subjects.

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Top 10 Lighting Mistakes

As a longtime photographer and mentor to other photographers, I’m uniquely qualified to speak about mistakes. I’ve made them all more than once and seen them all. That’s ok. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes, and if you’re not failing forward, you’re not trying hard enough. These top 10 lighting mistakes are all specific to flash. If you’re not using flash yet, read on for a few aha moments, and check out last month’s feature about why you need strobe in your life. Let’s get this party started.

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Lighting to Flatter the Female Form

Creating a light scheme that makes my subject look beautifully shaped right in camera allows me to save a lot of retouching time. This way I can also show a few photos directly on set during the shoot, let my client see the magic in the making and get her even more excited to proceed with the rest of the session. The confidence boost is incredibly helpful, empowering and attitude changing. Here are some of the light setups I use the most during photo shoots. I hope they help you create stunning maternity images.

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4 Cornerstones of a Well-Lit Portrait

Whether you’re as big a fan of classic commercial lighting as I am or prefer something different—perhaps the contrast of “dark and moody” or the flat “light and airy” look that’s trending on Instagram—I encourage you to closely study the four elements of a well-lit portrait. Understanding their rationale and the order in which they’re usually applied will help you become more efficient and better at controlling your own unique style.

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Master the Light with Sal Cincotta

Are you a natural-light photographer? Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds? Change your mindset. Be a photographer. As a photographer, you don’t identify yourself by your lighting choice. I don’t say I am a “Canon photographer.” I am a professional photographer. I take great pride in that, as should you. If you ever want to be successful in this business, you need to master all light. But make no mistake: There is a lot to do and it can seem overwhelming. 

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How to Take Bright & Colorful Photos

As a business owner, I need to show my clients what to expect and then deliver what they’re expecting. My clients come to me because they like “bright and vibrant colors” (that is a quote from an inquiry I had just today). If I want to add some moody or dramatic ones, I certainly can, but I need to deliver what they’ve been told to expect. If I tell them to expect bright and colorful photos, here’s how I ensure that happens every single time.

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Understanding Lighting as an Assistant

Understanding lighting as the primary photographer is, of course, the most important part of creating images. When photographers start out in their career, their assistant is a light stand. There isn’t much collaboration in that, and it means you’re still doing all the work yourself. The beauty of being able to add an actual human assistant allows you to get creative and bounce ideas off of each other throughout the process. Before you can get to that place, you have to ensure your assistant is trained properly and understands lighting not as a photographer, but as an assistant. Let me explain.

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Lighting Foundations for Better Portraits

Photographers who understand light use it as a paintbrush to create a beautiful piece of art for their clients. Photographers tend to overcomplicate things, which can make the use of artificial light intimidating to some. This month, I talk about techniques that are not commonly used by wedding and portrait photographers who do most of their work outside the studio. I also get into the intricate details of light that can impact a portrait for better or worse.

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