How Light Can Change Emotion in Your Portraits

It goes without saying that lighting is an incredible important aspect to any genre of photography. But in portraiture, light can be used to create, or enhance, emotion in a photo.

In this 13-minute video by The Slanted Lens, photographer Jay P. Morgan gives some great insight into how this works. By applying different lighting styles and colors, he asks the model to display 3 emotions: sad, happy, and evil.

Take, for example, the happy emotion she shows. When this is done under a strongly contrasting side-light, things don’t quite look “correct.” But as soon as she adopts a sad emotion, the lighting pops with the emotion and the photo becomes rather dramatic.

By positioning the light beneath her, an unnatural ‘dark’ light occurs. It’s signatory with evil laughs or horror stories told around campfires, but it’s really interesting to see how anything but an evil look seems very strange.

The tutorial is definitely worth watching. Light is one of the most powerful tools in your photographic arsenal, and knowing how to use to it great effective is of paramount importance.

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