If you have some familiarity with photographic lighting, you are likely at least a little familiar with the different types of portrait lighting like loop, Rembrandt, butterfly (also known as paramount,) broad, and short, to name a few. You likely also have heard some directives about which types of lighting to use in particular scenarios and which to avoid – don’t light from below unless you’re going for an eerie look, use short lighting to narrow a full face and so on.
Even with this preface, you may not be fully aware just what an immense difference light placement can make when it comes to how a subject’s face is seen. Filmmaker Nacho Guzman’s teaser for a music video he made for Parisian musician, Opale, can change that.
The teaser is not quite two minutes long and in its entirety is a mostly repetitive exercise in lighting a face. That sounds really boring, but it’s actually fascinating to watch. The light plays such a strong role in how the subject’s face is perceived that it appears to shape-shift as the key light is moved around. Sometimes, from moment to moment, the subject doesn’t even look like the same person.
Pausing the video in different places can offer some insights into how lighting patterns shape the face as well as what works best and worst for this particular subject. It goes to show that you can find lighting lessons in all sorts of unexpected places. Truly incredible.