This is a short article to demonstrate the effect and difference between lighting from the front and lighting from behind the model / subject.

Front Lighting

In a lot of glamour, boudoir and portrait photography the first choice is to light from the front. This often gives even illumination without a lot of shadows, and is probably the easiest form of lighting to deal with. The results may not be overly interesting or dramatic, but front lighting can often be quite flattering to the model.

In the example below I lit Rosie with a large softbox from the front, coupled with a hair / rim light from behind in what is often referred to as two-point lighting or ‘sandwich lighting’ (the model is sandwiched between the two lights). I feel the lighting suits the mood of the image perfectly.

Rosie : Front light v back light : by Paul Jones

Setup : Front light v back light : by Paul Jones

Back Lighting

If you want to get a bit more creative and dramatic with your lighting consider having the main light coming from behind the model. Back lighting can be used to create shadows and depth to an image and is a good choice for nude photography or dramatic boudoir photography.

Rather than using a large softbox or umbrella, a smaller light source and modifiers such as a grid, snoot or barn-doors can further increase contrast and add to the drama. Take care when positioning the back light to avoid any lens flare creeping into the image.

The photograph of Rosie below was taken just a few minutes after the front-lit photograph above. I turned off the softbox at the front and chose to light Rosie purely with the reflector dish light from behind. The white bedsheet acted as a reflector to kick some light back onto her body and into her eyes.

Rosie : Front light v back light : by Paul Jones

Setup : Front light v back light : by Paul Jones

What do you think…?

Experiment with your lighting and have fun with your photography. Click the images to see them larger and please feel free to leave a comment or question.

Thanks for reading.


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