Photography cheat sheet: portrait lighting techniques

Photography cheat sheet: Simple portrait lighting techniques

Professional-looking portraits don't always require professional lighting setups. While it definitely helps to have appropriate lights, such as LED light panels or the best flashgun, what makes the crucial difference between an average portrait and a great one is knowing what to do with the kit you have.

Much of your success comes down to arranging your light source so that it complements the subject being photographed, and using a few accessories where required – such as flash diffusers – to modify the light in the scene. These don't need to be expensive, and often you can substitute something you may have lying around the house. A large piece of white foam or sturdy cardboard, for example, can often work perfectly well as reflectors for photography.

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Matt Golowczynski

The former editor of Digital Camera World, "Matt G" has spent the bulk of his career working in or reporting on the photographic industry. For two and a half years he worked in the trade side of the business with Jessops and Wex, serving as content marketing manager for the latter. 

Switching streams he also spent five years as a journalist, where he served as technical writer and technical editor for What Digital Camera before joining DCW, taking on assignments as a freelance writer and photographer in his own right. He currently works for SmartFrame, a specialist in image-streaming technology and protection.