Essentially, this book deals with portrait lightingthat is, the hows and whys of placing studio lights so as to illuminate the subject in the most pleasing way. Thus the topics of broad and short main-light positioning, fill-light brightness, and back lighting are discussed. Because posing, backgrounds, vignettes, and, yes, even bellows-extension factors are fundamental to portraiture, these topics are also included.
The lighting procedures suggested are based on the conventional procedures of expert portrait photographersthose professionals who, day in and day out, endeavor to produce artistic and salable likenesses of their customers. These suggestions are not intended as hard-and-fast rules; nor should they be regarded as the only way to light a subjectmerely one good way. To some readers, these procedures may well be regarded as review; yet, perhaps a suggestion here or there might help them correct a lighting flaw that has remained unnoticed or point the way to more efficient methods or more artistic results. Of course, we hope this information will be very helpful to the newcomer to portrait photography, as well as to the commercial or industrial photographer who is called upon to make an occasional portrait.
Note that the basic procedures described apply generally to both black-and-white and modern negative-positive color portraiture. In other words, the principles governing lighting and posing are practically the same, regardless of whether the camera is loaded with black-and-white or color film. Wherever color demands special treatment, it will be pointed out.
In addition, this publication is intended as a guide to ease the transition from black-and-white photography to the increasingly important negative-positive system of color photography. Accordingly, suggestions for working with commercial color finishers for custom services are included, with emphasis on the required consistency in studio procedures which can make the difference between poor and excellent results and between unprofitable and profitable color portraiture.
Finally, we want to emphasize the point that no book can be the complete answer to excellent portrait lighting. The exact effect of each light and the visual balance of any combination can be seen only in the studio.