Potrait Lighting to Slim or Expand the face

Lately I’ve been experimenting with lighting and how it falls on the face.  When I don’t have a model, doing “selfies” and trying to pose myself is an interesting challenge.  I wanted to try creating a photo with my head slightly cut off – doing a selfie allowed me to play around with composition and how close I needed to be the the camera to make it look intentional.

The photo below is what I came up with.  My key light, an umbrella used as a bounce, is in the classic 45 degrees up from my face.    I have a backlight at a stop lower behind me to make sure the background doesn’t go totally grey.  Effective focal length is 80mm.

A selfie. Lighting the far side of the face to make my face look slimmer
A selfie. Lighting the far side of the face to make my face look slimmer

I lit the side of my face that was the furthest away from the camera to cast a slight shadow on the closest side to create slimming effect; this can be used with someone with a wider face / rounder face like myself for a more flattering photo.  You can go the opposite route and light the side closest to the camera to give the opposite effect so those with narrow faces can look more full vs. looking skinny.  The portrait I took on the weekend is an example lighting the opposite way.


Hope you enjoyed this quick example of how lighting the side closest or farthest away can affect your portraits.




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