6 Portrait Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Know

What the heck is a “catchlight”?


Notice in this photo above that the baby’s eyes have a reflection of the actual light source in them. It shows up as a little white spot, but if we look closer we can actually see the shape of the light I used in this portrait.


See how the bright spot is actually hexagon with a dark centre? That’s the light I used which was a small hexagon shaped soft box on my Canon speedlight.

This is what is known as the “catchlight”. Without the eye of the subject catching this light, the eyes will appear dark, dead and lifeless. You need to ensure that at least one eye has a catchlight to give the subject life. Notice it also lightens the iris and brightens the eye overall. This also adds to the feeling of life and gives them a sparkle.

2. Loop Lighting


Loop lighting is made by creating a small shadow of the subjects noses on their cheeks. To create loop lighting, the light source must be slightly higher than eye level and about 30-45 degrees from the camera (depends on the person, you have to learn how to read people’s faces).

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