On 28 September we enjoyed an educational practical evening when Damon Guy dropped in to introduce us to the basics of lighting for portraiture. His mission was to get us working with “classic face lighting”.

The photography website that Damon runs can be found at http://www.photokonnexion.com

Damon has been a keen photographer all his life and a professional for the last twelve years.  As well as being a photographer he is also a writer, webmaster, website developer, and teacher.  He runs and edits Photokonnexion, a website that aims to help photographers of all abilities with articles providing new insights, skills and techniques.  He is also a member of Marlow Camera Club and an expeienced CACC judge.

Our workshop began with a short, illustrated talk by Damon who explained that portraiture is “all about making the sitter look good”.  Natural light is better for portraiture than artificial light.  And constant light works much better than flash.

The photographer has two objectives.  First, to show the face as a 3D sculpted object.  Second, to bring out the character of the sitter.  He/she is looking for the balance of light and shade that achieves those two objectives.

The “key light” – ie, the primary light source – is the departure point.  Other lights, and/or reflectors can be added into the mix, but the key light is where the magic begins.  And much can be achieved with just a single source of light.

Damon suggested dividing a face up into its four quadrants and examining the different light profiles in each.  He then showed us the seven basic portraiture lighting set ups – which he identified as direct light, split, broad, short, butterfly, Rembrandt, and loop – and set out their key characteristics, principal uses, and some potential pitfalls.

After we had digested all that, it was time to split into two groups for two practical exercises.

In the first exercise, we had to position a large softbox and a mannikin head to create for ourselves, and photograph, each of the seven basic set ups.

Once we had worked through all of those, for the second exercise we did them all again taking it in turns to act as a real model.

Consequently, we all got to see how the positioning of the softbox relative to the mannikin head produced particular arrangements of light and shadow before – making it real – trying the same things with an actual living model.

And all the while, Damon was urging us to “direct the sitter”, showing us how to make fine adjustments, and giving us other tips and tricks.

The short theoretical introduction followed by the more lengthy practical experience was a great introduction to one of the fundamental photographic genres.  As an experienced teacher, Damon made the session informative, stimulating, and most enjoyable.

And there was something in this workshop for everyone.  Those new to the subject should now have a firm basis for exploring portraiture further.  And even the more experienced photographers will have picked up a trick or two.

This was a very instructive workshop to help everyone develop their skills and make better portraits.