This is Dan Wollgers, a Swedish artist that I got the assignment to shoot some publicity portraits of recently. When the publishing house asked me, I instantly thought of a very simple and clean setup.
Using a large light source as my main light (camera right), and a smaller as fill (camera left) for more contrast in the shadows, it created a portrait that feels like a cover of Wired (which I like).
Behind The Scenes
This lighting setup is something that I use quite often, but with variations of the theme. The main idea is to light the face with different levels of light but never let the shadows get too dark.
The main light on the right side of the camera, a 5 foot large Profoto softbox Octa is set at a height that casts just the right amount of shadows under the nose and chin. In my opinion, at least.
The fill light from a white Profoto Softlight Reflector (beauty dish) comes from higher up and helps with lifting the shadows. With a balanced portrait lighting like this, I think it is easy for the model of the day to twist and turn as they like.
Compared to lighting setups where there is only light from one side, this one is a bit more versatile as there will never be too much contrast regardless on how they sit, or stand.
And with light coming from both left and right, the facial features are defined in different levels of skin tones, everything has a colour. If I want more contrast, that is easier to add in post-production, than the other way around.
Using both lights from high above, glasses will not be a problem either, if the model don’t look up too much, that is.
The only thing that I use to look for, when shooting portraits of people with glasses, is that the frames will not get in the way of their eyes. That can be a problem with thick frames and some people that likes to lower their heads in portraits.
This setup can be used in a lot of different ways, and if you want to adjust the ratio on either light, you can easily create a different portrait without having to move anything.
Or, move the main or fill light just a little bit here or there.
For more portraits using a two light setup, just check my archives.