What Is Short Lighting And How To Use It

What Is Short Lighting And How To Use It

As a photographer, it is important that you have a good understanding of different photography techniques to use. Not only will this allow you to broaden your creative horizons, but it will also help you to improve your lighting skills. 

If you are a portrait photographer, knowing how to use short lighting correctly is something that will be very useful to learn. It will help to enhance your portrait skills, and give you a better understanding of the use of light. 

In this article, we will be discussing both short and long lighting, and how these techniques can, and should, be used in photography.

What Is Short Lighting?

Short lighting is a fantastic effect to incorporate into portrait photos. As its name suggests, the lighting used is placed close to the subject within the photograph to illuminate a specific part of the person. 

It is typically used with artificial lighting as this is easy to manipulate and adjust depending on the purpose. Natural lighting is something that photographers will have little to no control over. However, in some instances it still can be used.

Short lighting is a technique that is more commonly associated with face photography in particular because of the way in which it is able to bring focus to a certain area of the face. 

It is intended to create depth within a photo, and it is a good option to consider if you want to flatter the model. This is why it is popular for beauty shots, but it can highlight some flaws within the skin. 

Short lighting can be used as a soft glow on the side of someone’s face, or it can be used to illuminate the subject completely. Its intention is to help bring the focus of the subject in the photo. After all, portrait photographs do not need to have complex backgrounds. 

The shadowing created with short lighting is just as important as the light used. Both combined help to emphasize specific features of the face, and can even create a more dynamic image.

How To Use Short Lighting

Technically speaking, short lighting can be used in any way that you feel would compliment the model and also the type of photo you are taking.

Typically, the side of a subject’s face will be the focus point on the camera, rather than the model sitting directly in front of the camera. This is to help create the lighting and shadowing effect.

When you are shooting using short lighting, you will want to ensure that the lighting is hitting the short side of the face, which is the half of the face that is not directly in front of the camera. The model’s features will naturally create a shadow from here. 

Place the lighting on the side of the model that is the furthest away from the camera.

What Is Short Lighting?

Essentially, you can place the lighting on any part of this side of the face, and it is useful to experiment with different positions and heights to achieve the best possible illumination and shadowing effects. 

In addition to the angle of the lighting, the camera angle and positioning is important to get correct too.

The camera should be placed in such a way that the person is the dominant focus of the photograph.

If you are looking to use short lighting, it is a fantastic option to use if the model has a rounded-face. It will help to compliment their natural features, and cause the subject’s face to seem less rounded. This is a popular technique used in the beauty and fashion industry. 

If your sole focus is the model, and you want the background and foreground of the photo to be dark, short lighting is the best option to consider.

It is worth noting that short lighting does highlight imperfections on the skin more than some other types of photography. This is something to keep in mind if you are planning to use this lighting for beauty photography.

What Is Broad Lighting? 

In contrast to short lighting, board lighting is a popular feature that is often used for portrait photos too.

Now that you have an understanding of short lighting, it is fairly easy to understand how broad lighting can be used. This is because it is essentially the opposite of short lighting. 

The part of the face that is the focus and is being lit up is the side of the face that is closest to the camera.

The other side of the face will have the shadow created. The broad part of the face is the focus of the image. 

As the side of the face that is closest to the camera is illuminated, the results of this technique are less dramatic than when short lighting is used. Even so, the photos created still feature good levels of contrast, focus on the subject, and are poignant. 

How To Use Broad Lighting

There are a number of different ways in which you can use broad lighting, and it can be a very flattering form for portrait photography. It allows the focus to be on the front of the image and the model’s face, rather than the short side.

As a result, you will want to set up the light so that it is focusing on this area. Again, the angle, height, and how close the lighting is to the model will depend on personal preference.

The brightness of the lighting can also vary. A good lighting angle for broad shots is at around 45 degrees, as this highlights the subject’s face well, and the shadow created is bold, and effective.

If you have a model that has sharp and strong features, broad lighting can help to widen their face, which is a contrast to how short lighting is used. This is again useful in the beauty and modeling industry, depending on the type of model you are photographing. 

The effect created with broad lighting is slightly less dramatic in comparison to short lighting, given the positioning of the light source. However, it is still a useful option to consider if you are looking to create contrast that butterfly lighting does not provide. 

As broad lighting is less harsh in comparison to short lighting, it is a popular choice to use for beauty shots. It helps to improve the appearance of imperfections, which is something many clients are looking for. 


We hope you have found this article useful. As you can see, there are many aspects to take into consideration before using short lighting. It is a fantastic portrait lighting option to consider, especially if you are looking for a more dramatic effect.

Feel free to experiment with the angle and height of the lighting to allow it to best suit the appearance of the model. 

It is the complete contrast of broad lighting, which focuses on the broad areas of the model’s face, rather than the short. However, they are both useful and important techniques to consider and learn, especially within portrait photography. 

They are popular choices used by photographers, and within the beauty industry, they can help to flatter the appearance of the models, depending on their natural features. 






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