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Tips & Tricks

See the Light with this Portrait Lighting Cheat Sheet

By Anthony Thurston on May 20th 2013

You can listen to people talk about portrait lighting for days, where to put your lights for the best results, etc. But if you are a visual learner as many creatives are then you may learn a bit quicker with the help of a visual cheat sheet.

I recently dug up this old portrait lighting cheat sheet that I used back when I was just starting to learn how to shoot with artificial lighting. It’s not a fancy cheat sheet, but it does its job. You can see how the light falls onto the subject in different positions straight on, angled down and angled up. This was a huge help to me when learning lighting. Not because I did not understand when others were telling me this stuff, but because It was hard for me to see the difference in the final images.

But with this cheat sheet I was able to see what the light would look like in each position. This allowed me to easily decide where to place my lights and reflectors to get the results that I wanted. Below you can see an small version, if you would like the look at the full size you can get that here.


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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Robert Sheppard

    Useful, thanks, I did one ages ago also using different modifiers, I need to dig that out…

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