Today, I’ll be walking through how to capture dramatic portraits using off-camera flash when on a solo photoshoot with a model.

Video: How to Capture Dramatic Portraits Using Off-Camera Flash By Yourself

What you’ll need:

  1. A camera with off-camera flash functions. I’ll be using my Canon EOS R5.
  2. A portrait lens, ideally a zoom such as the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L to compress the scene.
  3. A portable off-camera flash like the Profoto A2.
  4. A light modifier such as an umbrella or softbox. I’ll be using the new Profoto Clic Octa Softbox.
  5. A lightweight stand such as the Manfrotto Nanostand.

Before we jump in, be sure to give Sabrina, our model today, a follow on Instagram.


I want to use the leading lines on this brick wall as a visual guide to the wall in the back. This skin-tone colored wall will serve as a good backdrop behind Sabrina.

Related Reading: 5 Compositional Techniques to Level Up Your Photography

Ambient Light

1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 @ 180mm

When using off-camera flash, the ambient light settings will set the intention for the photo. Dark for dramatic and bright for natural. Since we’re going for dramatic portraits, I turned down the exposure quite a bit.

Modify/Add Light

dramatic portraits rembrandt

I placed the A2 with the Softbox on my Nanostand and positioned it to create Rembrandt style lighting. Be sure that your off-camera flash can provide ample power to light your subject if you’re shooting in the daylight.

Pro-tip: When working with modifiers, hang your camera bag on the stand to provide extra stability in light winds.


dramatic portraits off camera flash
Edited with Visual Flow > Pure Presets

With all the settings dialed in, it’s time to start capturing our dramatic portraits!


That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on photographing dramatic portraits by yourself using off-camera flash. To learn the full creative potential of off-camera flash, check out the Flash Photography Training System on SLR Lounge Premium. There, you’ll also find dedicated courses on Building a 7-Figure Photography Business, Mastering Lightroom Editing, and more. You can also visit Visual Flow for our entire library of Lightroom presets and retouching tools.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!