Portrait Photography |Placing the Main Light

Photofocus (old site)

The main light is the source of illumination for a picture. It’s the one that’s measured for exposure with an incident meter. Using one is explained in the Photofocus post Exposure Tactics: Incident Metering. It sets the mood for the photograph. It’s the one that all the other lights serve. It also provides the main diffused highlight in a portrait. It’s important. The question I get asked most often about it is “How do you know where to put the main light?” That’s a good question. A really good question. The answer? It comes down to symmetry.

Facial Structure

Faces are not symmetrical in about ninety-eight percent of the world’s people. These faces’ sides are different. One eye will be larger than the other, same for the nostrils, cheeks and even the width of each side will be different. These traits add character and interest. They also tell…

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