Portrait Lighting Tips for Bald People

Portrait clients come in all shapes and sizes, as does their hair. And sometimes that means no hair at all. Unfortunately, that can present a few challenges, especially that of hot spots or glare. But never fear, the courageous Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter has these pointers to help you win the war on glare:

There are a number of reasons someone might not have hair—male-pattern baldness, cancer treatment, or voluntarily shaving their head. All present the same problem: glare. Skin is a very reflective surface on the head and if you’re using a standard three-light portrait setup on someone without hair, you’re likely to run into problems. This is especially true if your client has greasy skin or tends to sweat a lot.

glare on bald head

Glare and hot spots are common when photographing a person without hair.

The solution, according to Pike, is five-fold:

  1. Use powder. (It’s probably best not to call it “make-up” with your male-identified corporate clients.)
  2. Check the exposure in-camera if possible (an easy way to identify hot spots).
  3. Physically lower your key light so that it’s not shining so much on the top of the head.
  4. Remove the hair light or reduce it substantially. Think about it: the hair light is intended to shine on the hair, not the skin. Without hair, the skin of the human head turns into a reflector when hit by a hair light.
  5. Use the background light to create a sense of separation from the background—just be aware of how it works with the skin color of the person you’re photographing. (Lighter backgrounds for darker skin; darker backgrounds for lighter skin.)
lighting for bald heads

No hair/rim light, a dark background, and a background light focused directly behind the subject.

Thankfully there are courageous people like Pike out there to help us out with these tricky lighting situations; it saves us the hassle of having to shave our heads or embarrassing a bald friend.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever