Lighting can completely change your portraits from boring to epic!

My fellow photographers will understand the struggle of exposure. Do you properly expose for the background or for the subject? If you expose for the background, the subject will become a silhouette. You can try lighting them up in post but that doesn’t always work. If you expose for the subject, the background will be overexposed and there isn’t a lot of ways to recover that lost information. So what do you do? The best way to get an epic portrait every time is by using lighting, like speedlights.

The way to do it is to set your camera to expose for the sky. Yes, this will make the subject very dark but we’ll fix that soon.

Underexposed Not So Epic Portrait Lighting

underexposed image of a girl in sequins

This is what it should look like when you expose for the sky.

As you can see this is way too dark. We want the subject to be nicely lit like this.

Overexposed Still Not Epic Portrait Lighting

Overexposed image of girl in sequins

This is the type of lighting we want on our subject. But the sky is over exposed.

To do this, you’ll want to get out your speedlights. You can set them wherever you’d like but it looks really great if you put it a 45 degree angle from your model. Set the settings on you speedlight to fully expose the subject.

Perfectly Exposed Epic Portrait Lighting

Perfectly exposed epic portrait lighting

Tada! Now we have a perfectly exposed image with epic portrait lighting. The subject isn’t too dark and the background isn’t to bright. One of my favorite photographers, the amazing Annie Leibovitz, uses this type of lighting all the time. There’s a lot you can do with this technique. Often times, this technique is used to blur the lines between landscape and portrait photography. You can also change the location and color of the light. The possibilities are endless!