Wind Direction Techniques for Portrait Photography

Do you ever bring a fan into your studio to add a wind effect to your photos? Have you thought much about the direction it blows? In this short yet absorbing video, Gavin Hoey demonstrates how a change in the direction of wind can have a stunning effect on the quality of your portraits:

There are many ways you can create a bit of wind to add some dynamics to your images, if all you need is a quick impromptu breeze, it can accomplished by giving a large reflector a quick waft.

For a more sustained breeze—for a series of continuous shots perhaps—a household fan is a better choice.

Finally, for a stronger gust of air, a proper wind machine is what you need.

The key to adding an artificial breeze to a studio portrait session is in its direction rather than its strength. Hoey suggests that it should come from below. Here’s why.

Here is an example of an image where the air is coming from above.

Wind direction and studio portraits

The result is reasonable, but not super exciting. The hair did not move that much. Now compare that with this image where the wind blew from below.

adding wind to portraits

Clearly, there’s a lot more hair movement.

The breeze created by a waft of the reflector tends to do the job nicely, except that you need someone to keep wafting if you need to shoot several images, which can be quite tiring. The alternative is to use a table fan.

With a fan, Hoey uses the same general direction, from below. But this time he places it in front of the model rather than to the side. Everything else remains the same. Here is the result.

wind direction and studio portraits

That’s definitely a smoother looking effect.

Next, Hoey tries a wind machine. But this time he places it behind the model, pointing up. The wind machine is too powerful and sort of uncontrollable. The results it produces are messy but more dramatic.

studio portraits fans and wind machines

To conclude, here is a quick side by side comparison of the three setups.

creating wind in a studio

As you can see, the direction of the wind has a bearing on the look of your images, just like the direction of light.

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Your email address will not be published.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