Learn Photographic Lighting and Studio Lighting

Photography is all about light. Strong light, soft light, directional light, flat light…  it’s all about light.  If you are interested in learning how to light a subject using studio lights, this first installment will be of interest.  There are several types of portrait lighting and these articles will cover the main styles: Theatrical, Rembrandt, Split, Scary, and Even.

This article explains Theatrical portrait lighting, also known as Stage Lighting or Butterfly Lighting.


Step 1. Position your model so that she is looking directly at your camera and you are directly in front of her.
Step 2. Look at the iris of her eye as though it is a clock.
Step 3. Position your light so that the reflection of the light appears at 12 o’clock on the model’s iris.
(This reflection of the light is called a ‘catch light.’)

This is the positioning that produces ‘theatrical’ lighting.  It’s simple, see?

The characteristics of theatrical lighting shadows and highlights are:

a. shadows under the nose
b. shadows under the cheekbones
c. shadows under the jaw, usually spilling down to the collar bones
d. shadow under the lower lip

a. highlights on the forehead
d. highlights on the top of the cheekbone
c. highlights on the nose
d. highlights on the chin

-The shadows will get DARKER as the light is moved CLOSER to the model.
-The shadows will get LIGHTER as the light is moved AWAY from the model.
-The shadows will be DARKER if you are NOT using an umbrella.
-The shadows will be LIGHTER if you ARE using an umbrella.


a. Theatrical lighting is dramatic; excellent for young people with good skin.
b. Theatrical lighting is dramatic; will accentuate scars, blemishes, bags under the eyes and other forms of texture.

There are several other types of studio lighting. Learn more with a one-on-one studio lighting lesson. If you are in the Portland Oregon area, and would like a personal lesson on photography, please give me a call at 503.290.8459  or send me an email.  My are paced to suit your level of expertise and learning. A personal one-on-one in-studio lighting lesson costs $299. Please bring a model and prepare to unleash your creativity!

Thank you for visiting my blog.  I wish you a day filled with perfect light!

Irene Elena Rose

Learn Portrait Photography Lighting Portland Oregon

Contact Elena Rose Boudoir Photography

2704 NE Stanton Street
Portland Oregon 97212-3537

Call or TEXT (503) 290-8459