If you ask me what my favorite light modifiers are, I’d tell you anything that helps me control the light. In this video, I’ll be walking through 3 subtle portrait lighting techniques using Profoto’s new Clic light modifiers.

Video: 3 Subtle OCF Portrait Lighting Techniques with Profoto’s Clic Modifiers

portrait lighting techniques profoto clic
Grid > Snoot > Barndoor

Profoto recently released their new set of Clic light modifiers: The Grid, Snoot, and Barndoors. These are absolutely tiny and as the name suggests, they simply click onto your flash, making them perfect for travel and fast-paced photography.

I’m with my friend Sabrina and I’ll be using these modifiers with my Profoto A2 flash to capture 3 natural portrait lighting techniques.

Profoto’s Clic System:

  1. Profoto A2 On/Off Camera Flash & Connect Pro
  2. Profoto Clic Grid
  3. Profoto Clic Snoot
  4. Profoto Clic Barndoors

Related Reading: Profoto A2 | The Perfect Flash for Destination Portraits

Technique #1: Bumping the Highlights w/ the Grid

The grid is a perfect tool to subtly bump the highlights on your subject. I started off by placing Sabrina in front of this patterned metal wall and composing her on the right third. You can see the direct sunlight coming in at an angle. This will be important in the next step.

I set up my A2 and positioned it in the same direction and angle as the sun.

I started off without the grid and you’ll notice how similar the shadows are due to the same light angle as the sun. However, there’s a lot of light spill on the wall.

Rule of thumb: In bright conditions, start off at the highest power and work your way down.

portrait lighting techniques before and after grid

This is where the grid comes in handy. We can use the grid to focus the light right on Sabrina. This helps bump the highlights right where we want it without spilling the light on the rest of the scene.

portrait lighting techniques grid sun light
Edited with Visual Flow > Mood Presets

Thanks to the grid, I can have complete control of the highlights when editing in Lightroom.

Technique #2: Create a Gobo Using the Snoot

I started off by having Sabrina against this ledge. I took advantage of the leading lines on the wall behind her as well as the shrubs in the foreground on the right. This leaves the brightest area of the frame near the middle.

The shrubs create an opportunity to add more interest to the image. I placed the A2 behind the shrubs that are in front of Sabrina. The idea is to shoot the light through the trees like a gobo to create a pattern on the wall. This is how it looks without the grid. You’ll notice a lot of extra light hitting the walls in the back.

portrait lighting techniques snoot effect

This is where you can interchange the snoot and the grid depending on how much you want to contain the light. You can think of the snoot as a higher power grid. It simply funnels the light into a tighter circular pattern. If you prefer the light to be more open, just swap out the snoot for the grid.

portrait lighting techniques snoot gobo pattern
Edited with Visual Flow > Mood Presets

Check out the before and after.

Technique #3: Control the Backlight with Barndoors

The barndoors can open and close to control the light spread.

You might be asking, how do the barndoors differ from the grid and the snoot? Well, the barndoors allows for more flexibility in how you can shape the light. You can open and close the wings to get the specific light control that you need. You’ll see in just a second.

I started off with this shot of Sabrina that captures a ton of depth behind her. Notice that much of the highlights are coming in behind her.

portrait lighting techniques barndoor position

To add some dimension to the shot, I placed the A2 behind Sabrina as a backlight.

The flash creates a beautiful rim light but without any modifiers, we get a lot of extra light spill. We’re also shooting into the light, which increases the chances of flare. The barndoors can address both of these issues.

I threw on the barndoors and closed it up to create this tight rectangular shape. Check out the difference. Because the barndoors simply flag the edges of the light, we don’t lose as much power output as the snoot or the grid.

portrait lighting techniques barndoors lightroom
Edited with Visual Flow > Mood Presets

The result is a beautiful, soft edge light that brings out the detail in the hair and helps refine our portrait.


If you enjoyed this tutorial, be sure to check out our Flash Photography Training Course on SLR Lounge Premium. You’ll also find full courses on various photography related subjects such as the Business of Photography, Lightroom editing, and more. You can also visit Visual Flow for our full library of Lightroom presets and retouching tools.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time!