How to light fine art photography portraits | Profoto (US)

How to light fine art photography portraits

03 October, 2021

Written by: Profoto and Lindsay Adler

How do you take a fine art portrait that represents your subject’s personality? Fashion photographer Lindsay Adler did exactly that when she created a fine art portrait of her wardrobe stylist Raytell by using broad but sculpted lighting to reflect his personality and skillset. Discover Lindsay’s four steps on how she portrays "the stylist and his muse" and learn this technique for your own fine art portrait photography.

Step 1. Build the scene for your image by setting up a textured grey canvas backdrop. Then add a variety of props, such as vintage apple boxes and a ladder that allow your subjects to interact with their environment.

Step 2. Place an 8x8′ scrim to the left-hand side of your frame, far enough to the left to create sculpted light that gives dimension to the scene. Add a Profoto D2 without any modifiers behind the scrim to illuminate it. This combination creates an extremely soft quality of light to the shot.

Profoto D2 on the left-hand-side with power output F8 and second Profoto D2 at the front with power output F4

Step 3. Position another Profoto D2 and Profoto Umbrella Deep White L with Umbrella Diffuser straight onto the scene to help lift off the shadows. While the placement of the first flash and scrim creates sculpting, this second light source helps to control the tonality (lightness/darkness) of those shadows.

Step 4. Finally, add a V-flat in between the scrim and the background to help control the spill of light in the shot. The V-flat helps to darken the back left-hand side of the background, avoids distraction and brings the eye back to the center of the composition.

Camera settings

  • Camera: Canon R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125
  • Aperture: F11
  • ISO: 200

You can find the full making of this image 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
From $215.00

Umbrella Diffuser

Turns your White or Silver Umbrella into a softbox
From $50.00

Air Remote TTL

Wirelessly connects your AirTTL light with your camera
From $249.00