3 photography tips for lighting artistic portraits | Profoto (IN)

3 photography tips for lighting artistic portraits

31 October, 2021

Written by: Profoto and Lindsay Adler

Do you want to learn how to light artistic portraits? Fashion photographer Lindsay Adler created a fine art portrait with a Renaissance feel, drawing inspiration from artistic poses, wardrobe, hair and makeup from a variety of eras of paintings. Find out her three lighting steps to create a timeless, artistic portrait yourself and get creative with your portrait photography.

Step 1. Place a Profoto D2 with Umbrella Deep White M and Umbrella Diffuser to the left-hand side of the frame. To create soft light, this light source should be close to the subject. Position it at a high angle as well to get sculptural results on the face and illuminate the top of the hair.

When the subject faces toward the light, lift the chin up slightly if you want to achieve catch lights in the eyes. If the subject faces away from the light (as seen in this shot), this first light will become a dramatic hair light.

Step 2. Position a second flash with a 5° grid to the left of the frame. Set it to a very low power to add a bit more brightness and contrast to the subject's face. As the angle of the first light is so high, this grid will also help to add catch lights, particularly when the subject is faced away from the umbrella.

Profoto D2 close to the subject with power output F5 and second Profoto D2 to the left-hand side of the frame with power output F2.8

Step 3. Lastly, add a white V-flat to the right-hand side of the frame to catch and bounce the light of the umbrella and to help lift the shadows. This is important to maintain detail in the shadow side of the subject’s wardrobe and face.

To achieve a fine art look it is extremely important that you plan ahead to put the right element in front of your lens. Can you find a wardrobe that matches your artistic portrait? What type of hair and makeup would reinforce your fine art concept? Is there a pose from a famous painting that you could reference in your own portrait?

Camera settings

  • Camera: Canon R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM
  • Shutter: 1/200
  • Aperture: F5
  • ISO: 100

You can find the full making of this artistic portrait and many more in Lindsay's "Stylized portrait" episode of her monthly subscription platform Learn+.

Written by: Profoto and Lindsay Adler

Products used in this story

Umbrella Deep White

A versatile and zoomable umbrella for a softer light

Umbrella Diffuser

Turns your White or Silver Umbrella into a softbox

Grid 100 mm

5°/10°/20° grids for flat fronted lights

Air Remote TTL

Wirelessly connects your AirTTL light with your camera