Low Key Rim Lighting Tutorial for Portraits

When we talk of low key portraits, it’s about making use of the dark tones to create a dramatic image. While taking low key portraits, you can use rim lighting to create a separation between the subject and the background. Besides adding further drama, rim lighting also helps in adding depth to the image. Photographer Gavin Hoey from Adorama takes you through the process of working with rim lights using two bare flashes, and then a stripbox:

The basic idea is to place the model against a dark background, and use two lights on either side of the model. The difference however is that the lights need to be behind the model, and not at the front. Use a softer light source to illuminate the face. Then, place the second light at a greater height to create a rim light on the model. This is important to create that beautiful separation from the background.

If getting creative with lighting and taking a mysterious portrait is what you’re looking for, try low key rim lighting. It’s not so difficult to set up. But, it can definitely be a challenge to capture the mood while revealing very little of the subject.

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