How to Shoot a Professional Black and White Portrait With Just One Light

If you look at the work of professional portrait photographers, you will probably notice that they frequently use more complex two- or three-light setups. Such setups certainly have their place, as they enable a lot of creative flexibility, but that does not mean you cannot take professional portraits with just a single light. This excellent video tutorial will show you an effective single-light portrait setup for taking compelling images.

Coming to you from Nathan Elson, this great video tutorial will show you a simple but effective single-light setup for portraiture. No doubt, multi-light setups give you greater freedom and control over the final image, but they are also more unwieldy and difficult to control. If you are working on location or if you are newer to artificial lighting, a single light is often a better choice. When you are learning the ropes, using just one light makes it easier to build an intuitive understanding of the fundamental properties of light, how it behaves, and how decisions you make affect the final photo. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Elson.

If you would like to learn more about lighting for portraits, be sure to check out "Illuminating The Face: Lighting for Headshots and Portraits With Peter Hurley!"

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6 Comments

Jeff McCollough's picture

Awesome video as always Nathan! Love your work.

Karl-Filip Karlsson's picture

My cup of tea! Always go close with the light!

Nathan Elson's picture

Thanks for the feature!

Jim Tincher's picture

Great work Nathan....

Michael Clark's picture

To what power level was the AD600 set?

John MacLean's picture

If you want the light as close as possible, a box or octa will get you closer than a diffused umbrella. But it’s probably only a foot difference and probably not that noticeable of a difference in final results. Nice clean look on the images.