woman's loop lighting portrait with Kate Like Oil Painting Background Abstract Texture Backdrops For Photography

How to Create Loop Lighting in Portrait Photography?

Today, there are many ways to create interesting and professional-looking portraits using only a few lights. One popular lighting technique is called loop lighting. You must be wondering what loop lighting is and how you can create it in your portraits.

Worry not. This article will explain everything you need to know about loop lighting, from what it is, when to use it in photography, to how to create it for your portraits.

What Is Loop Lighting?

Loop lighting is a lighting pattern in which the main light is placed to the side of the subject's face, at a position above the subject's eye line, creating circular shadows on the face of the subject, just under the subject's nose.

Loop lighting portraits often have the main light placed at a 45-degree angle to the subject's face. This helps give the portrait a subtle depth while still maintaining even lighting across the subject's face.

woman's portrait with Kate Brown Abstract Photography Textured Backdrops Old Master

Kate Brown Abstract Photography Textured Backdrops Old Master

The loop lighting technique is popular in portraiture because it is flattering to most face shapes and can be used to create a dynamic look in your photographs.

When to Use Loop Lighting in Photography?

Loop lighting is a great lighting technique. However, most photographers wonder when to use loop lighting in their photography. The answer is that loop lighting is a versatile lighting pattern. You can use it in various genres such as product photography, macro photography, and portrait photography.

However, the loop lighting technique is most commonly used in portrait photography to create flattering and dynamic portraits. Most photographers like to use loop lighting when shooting portraits of their subjects, especially those with oval faces, because it helps elongate and slim down the face.

If you are a beginner in photography and are still trying to figure out all the different lighting techniques, we recommend starting with loop lighting.

Loop lighting is a great lighting pattern for beginners as it is easy to set up and is flattering to most face shapes. Plus, once you master loop lighting, you can always experiment with other lighting patterns, such as Rembrandt or butterfly lighting.

woman's loop lighting portrait with Kate Fine Art Retro Florals Backdrop for Photography

Kate Fine Art Retro Florals Backdrop for Photography

If you are interested in shooting loop lighting photography, the next section will show you how to set up this lighting pattern for your portrait.

How to Create Loop Lighting for Your Portrait?

Creating loop lighting for your portrait is easy for anyone, even if you are a beginner in photography. Here are the steps to follow in your loop lighting photography:

1. Ask Your Subject to Pause

The first step is to ask your subject to pause in their current position while facing forward.

2. Place Your Main Light on a Movable Stand in Front of the Subject

You then must place your main light on a movable stand in front of the subject. You need to place the main light in front of the subject before moving it to the side to adjust the brightness and ensure the subject face is well lit.

Moreover, you need to place the main light on a movable stand so that you will be able to adjust the height and angle of the light later on.

3. Move the Stand with the Main Light to the Side of the Subject

woman's portrait photo

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Once you have placed the main light on a movable stand, you need to adjust the height and angle of the light. To do so, you need to move the stand with the main light to the subject's side until you find the perfect position.

The perfect position is when the main light is at a 45-degree angle to the subject's face and is at a position above the subject's eye line. It would help if you also ensured that the main light is not too high or too low.

4. Adjust the Angle of the Light

You will need to tilt the light downwards to cast a shadow on the subject's face, specifically under the subject's nose. The shadow should be in the shape of a loop, hence the name loop lighting.

It will help if you keep in mind that people's nose shapes are different, so the size of the shadow will also be different, and some nose shapes won't form a perfect loop. That's okay. Just aim for a loop-like shadow.

5. What You Need to Be Mindful Of

women's photo with Kate Like Oil Painting Background Abstract Texture Backdrops For Photography

Kate Like Oil Painting Background Abstract Texture Backdrops For Photography

  • Loop lighting photography can work for most of the subjects' face shapes. However, this lighting technique works best for subjects with oval-shaped faces as it helps to elongate and slim down the face. You can still use loop lighting if you shoot a portrait of a subject with a different face shape. However, you may need to adjust the light accordingly to flatter the subject's face.
  • The size of the shadow cast under the subject's nose should be small. Even though subjects with a larger nose may have a bigger shadow, you need to further adjust the position and angle of the main light so that the shadow is not too big. Sometimes 30 degrees can give you a good shadow or even an angle greater than 45 degrees.
  • To get the best portraits, the quality of your light should not be too soft or too harsh. It should be in between so that there are some shadows and highlights in your portrait. This will give your portrait more dimension and depth.
  • Sometimes, besides a loop forming under the subject's nose, there may also be a loop shadow cast on the subject's chin, depending on how much contrast you do or do not have in your portrait.

female loop lighting portrait

Photo by Luke Braswell on Unsplash

Conclusion

Loop lighting is a great lighting technique that is versatile and easy to do. It is a popular lighting pattern in portrait photography as it is flattering to most face shapes and can help create dynamic portraits.

If you are a beginner in photography, we recommend starting with loop lighting as it is easy to set up and achieve. Having known how to create loop lighting, go out and experiment with this lighting technique to create beautiful and flattering loop lighting portraits of your subjects.

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