Dramatic lighting for male portrait photography | Profoto (NL)

Dramatic lighting for male portrait photography

09 March, 2022

Written by: Profoto and Lindsay Adler

What’s the difference between photographing men versus women? In short, there's no straightforward answer - It all depends on the goal of your portrait. However, besides typical poses for men, there are a few classic lighting tips for shooting male subjects. In this article, fashion photographer Lindsay Adler shares one of many lighting setups she uses to create dramatic portraits of men.

How Lindsay Adler lights male portraits

Exploring hard, textural light is a great opportunity to create dramatic accents for portraits of male models. If Lindsay had photographed a woman for this shot instead, she would have added a soft fill light using a medium or large umbrella with diffusion panel to lighten the shadows slightly. However, it all depends on what feel you want to convey with your male portrait.

"While there is no such thing as ‘the right light’ for men vs. women, having a bit more texture to the skin with male subjects is often preferred stylistically."

How to create a dramatic black and white portrait

Step 1. After the model sits down and faces the camera,  place a Profoto D2 with a 5-degree grid centered on the subject's face to create a very concentrated area of light. If you want to make an even tighter area of light, bring the light closer to the subject or consider using cinefoil to restrict light. 

Step 2. Position a second Profoto D2 pointed towards the background on a floor stand, directly behind the subject and without any modifiers. For this portrait, Lindsay pointed the light at a gray background, but using a white background would require less power output.

Step 3. This image looks best processed as a high contrast black and white to play up the contrast of the shadows of the face against the white of the background. More contrast and clarity add to the dramatic textural results seen in this portrait. 

First Profoto D2 centered at the subject’s face with power output F8 and second Profoto D2 directly behind the subject with power output F8.

Tip
Try adding cinefoil to the equation to block even more light. You can wrap the cinefoil around the grid for a snoot-like effect, or simply place it in between the light and the subject to create tighter slices of light. 

Camera settings

  • Camera: Canon R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 24-105 mm F4L IS USM
  • Shutter: 1/200
  • Aperture: F5.6
  • ISO: 1250

About the photographer
To see more of Lindsay Adler's images and lighting setups from previous photo shoots, visit her Share the Light profile or check out her monthly subscription platform Learn+.

Written by: Profoto and Lindsay Adler

Products used in this story

Profoto D2

The world’s fastest monolight with TTL
From 1 749,17 €

Grid 100 mm

5°/10°/20° grids for flat fronted lights
From 126,45 €
Campaign

Air Remote TTL

Wirelessly connects your AirTTL light with your camera
From 326,45 €