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Rembrandt Lighting Techniques

Whether you like it or not, your knowledge of portrait lighting is essential to improving your skills as a pro photographer. Rembrandt lighting is one of several techniques that portrait studio photographers should learn and use. It's really very simple with one light source at about 45 degrees from the subject and a little above eye level. This lights the side of the face that's farthest from the camera. Most pros like this style and can be done with 1 or 2 lights which ensures one side of the face is illuminated well from the main light source. The other side of the face has a nose shadow and a triangle of light underneath the eye, as the light fades to shadow on the side of the cheek. Having your subject turn their head away or into the light is the key to Rembrandt lighting. This technique create an illusion of a third dimension by utilizing lights and darks. It's not that the shadows are hard or soft, just evident, no matter how subtle or prominent the appearance. I urge everyone to continue learning and experimenting with the five basic lighting set-ups and we'll keep presenting more idea, tips & techniques. We'd love to share some of your examples of Rembrandt lighting. Please add your favorite image and add a comment about your experience with Rembrandt lighting.