How to Photograph Portrait Lighting Patterns

Have you ever wondered what Rembrandt lighting means? Well, let me ‘shed some light’ on this topic!benjamin-franklin-u_s_-100-bill

Rembrandt lighting is a special way for artists and photographers to dramatically light the face. Check out the lighting on a 100 dollar bill. Do you see the triangle of light on the shadowed side of Benjamin Franklin’s face? This is Rembrandt lighting. I created this handout to help my Comm 316 Professional Imaging students learn the four basic lighting patterns: Split, Rembrandt, Loop and Butterfly.

I asked Emily Johnson to test it out on my TA, Megan Kelly, and take some portraits to illustrate each pattern. They were able to come up with these great examples, so I created some diagrams and descriptions to show how to angle your light for each lighting pattern and designed a simple infographic. You may use a speedlight or continuous light. An affordable way to see how the light falls before you shoot is with a 160 LED dimmable light from the Portable Lighting Kit on my Gear Page.

I would love to hear what you think of this information. Is it helpful?