Short Light & Broad Light In Portrait Photography

posted in Tips

Short Light & Broad Light In Portrait Photography

Hello everyone.

Here’s another small little tip/tutorial post on lighting.

This time we’re going to discuss the difference between broad and short light. These lighting patterns have been around forever but they still cause some confusion, they actually did to me too a while back so we’re going to make it quite simple.

Put simply Broad light is when the model is positioned where the side that is closest to the camera is hit by the main (or key) light, conversely short light in portrait photography happens when the side that is the further away from the camera is lit by the key light.

Let’s see some examples shall we?

Broad Light Portrait                      Short Light Portrait

You can clearly see which image is the most flattering for our the model can’t you? Need another example?

Broad Light Portrait Pattern - Model: Aggy                      Short Light Portrait Photography - Model: Aggy

What about now?

You guessed it! Short light is generally more pleasant for the model, this isn’t to say that we should never use broad light but we should be more careful when using broad light.

Now the studio setup to achieve this is quite simple, you only require one light for this. You can always use fill lights or reflectors to fill the shadows but on the portraits above and to accentuate the effect we didn’t use any fill.

Below you’ll see a sample of the setup from both a side view and a top view.

Top View - Portrait Lighting                      Side View Portrait Lighting


Hope you enjoyed this small lighting tip. I would like to thank the lovely Aggy for submitting herself to the torture that is being in front of my camera (just kidding) and for taking part in yet another tutorial for RC Portraits. Please throw her a like on her Facebook page as she’s a photographer herself.

Please visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest from RC Portraits.

Leave a Reply