How To Set Up A Broad Lighting

By William Lulow

The Broad lighting is exactly the opposite of the short, or NARROW lighting. It is achieved by placing the light so that it illuminates the side of the face that is toward the camera. It is a good lighting setup to use on a thin face to give it the appearance of being broader, hence, the name. You can use this lighting also as a dramatic lighting or when you need to hide one side of the face. Remember, if you intend to sell the photographs, you should know how to make people look their best.

Here’s an example:


Note that the side of the face that is lit is toward the camera position. Compare this with the Narrow Lighting which I posted earlier. This is also a good lighting to use when you need to hide a facial feature.

When a subject is sitting for a portrait, they will always move and change poses. You should encourage this, but all the while, keeping a watchful eye on what lightings look best. You should make an effort to observe just what the light does rather than looking through the viewfinder all the time. Get used to seeing light without necessarily taking any pictures. Then, when you see a light that looks particularly good on your subject, exploit it by shooting lots of images. The process of portrait photography includes being able to “see” what types of lightings look best on your subjects. If I’m not sure what kind of lighting to use before I make a portrait, I often experiment by moving the light around a bit to try to preview in my mind, what the picture will look like.