#09: Stylized Portrait

Some portraits you just want to be simply beautiful, not just after retouching, but when you’re taking them. That’s how this one goes.

Nikon D800, 85mm f1.8 @f9, ISO 100, 1/200s


  • 150cm Octabox with a 1000Ws Monoblock
  • Normal reflector on a 500Ws Monoblock


It doesn’t have to be hard!

You don’t always need 27 softboxes, reflectors, and gels. Sometimes, a perfect portrait is simple to make happen.

In this example, a very soft light source was used to completely illuminate the model’s face. Of course, you don’t want completely flat light; you want shade and for the light to come from a definite point.

The model’s hair is balanced against the main light with its own light and a normal reflector.

The main light produces a lot of stray light, but this is used to illuminate the background. Position the model far enough from the background so that the background receives enough light having without any shadows from the model.


Too low

If the light source is positioned too low, which can happen quite easily because of the size of the stand or because having it at eye-level is more convenient, you end up illuminating your model’s nostrils and with too large a shadow from her nose spreading up her face. Not what you want.

Just right

When the height is right, the nasal edge is well-formed and the shadow from the nose drops slightly. This kind of light is perceived as “natural”. The viewer doesn’t question it and it doesn’t detract from the scene.

Too high

Position the light source too high and you will cast deep shadows. Here, the shadows fall almost to the upper lip.

The light here is natural, but it is more of a design element and it divides the face. Not forgetting that the eye sockets are in shadow and the eyes aren’t lit well enough.


For the pictures in the article we used the light simulation “Set.A.Light 3D”. You can download the lighting setup and try everything for yourself.

If you’ve never worked with Set.a.Light before, you should give it a try!

There is also a free demo version on the website, which you can use to open our set.

all setups

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