Night Portraits Tutorial with a Smartphone Flashlight

You probably don’t always carry a flash around with you. But don’t let that stop you from taking nighttime portraits. Photographer Pye Jirsa takes up the challenge of photographing portraits at night using his phone’s flashlight as a light source:

Jirsa starts by placing the subject behind a sculpture so that it creates a frame around her. He uses a stand to hold his phone, which has the flashlight on to light the subject’s face. He then shoots the image from a higher angle.

night portrait using phone flashlight

night time portrait with flashlight

Next, Jirca has the subject stand over a ceiling light. With the camera set to take a 1-second exposure, he uses his phone’s flashlight to quickly light-paint over her one side. The result is stunning:

light painting using phone flashlight

For the next shot, Jirsa has the model sit against a wall. With the camera set to take the image in timer mode, he shines the phone’s light on to the model’s face through a copper pipe. Using the copper pipe, he creates a spotlight effect to highlight the her eye.

night time portrait using smartphone light

Jirsa decides to step up the game a bit for the next shot. He asks the model stay as still as possible and takes four different images. In each photo, he holds the light differently to illuminate the subject and the background. His idea is to combine these four differently lit images in Photoshop and mask in the light only where necessary.

multiple exposures light painting

light painting composite

To make the images more interesting, Jirsa adds a dash of cologne to the photoshoot. By holding the cologne bottle directly in front of the phone’s flashlight, he creates different lighting patterns on the subject’s face.

light streaks using flashlight and cologne bottle

In the same location, Jirsa has the subject to lean up against a fence and sets the camera to let in as much light as possible. Then, by using a frosting tube to create a snoot for the phone’s flashlight, he adds a hint of light to the subject’s face. The snooted phone light adds a kiss of light to draw the viewer’s attention to the subject’s face.

night portrait using flashlight and small snoot

For the final image, Jirsa poses the subject in front of a red neon light. He then uses the snooted light again to brighten up the subject’s face and clear the red tint.

night portrait with phone flashlight

The fact that you can get amazing results using your phone’s flashlight is just amazing. How about giving this a try?

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