Skip to main content

Add drama to your portraits using off-camera flash

Give your photos the edge

Most of us have probably used side-lighting in our photography before, even if we didn’t necessarily do so intentionally. We get someone to stand near a window and look at the camera, and the light falls across their face. Or we put a flashgun up to one side so only half their face is lit, and the other is in shadow.

In this technique we’re keeping the same concept, but tweaking the position for a more dramatic result. We’ll position our model so that they’re a few feet away from the light source and closer to the camera, resulting in a more shadowy face and a harder edge to the profile. On this shoot we’re emphasising the wonderful shapes and curves that are created with this pleasing mix of side-lighting and backlighting. It’s simple once you get set up, so let’s take a look at where we need to position everything…

Step-by-step: Take sides

Top tip: shoot from behind

If you’re happy with shooting into the light, try shooting from behind the model. It’ll be tricky to get right, but you’ll have a strong backlit shot, with some flaring of the light in the background.