Lighting is one of the most important tools a photographer can use to improve the quality of their photographs. If you’re shooting inside a studio, I recommend using a three-point lighting set up as shown in the diagram below, which consists of a key light, fill light and back light (Tv Studio, 2013). This is my favorite type of set up because with this type of lighting you’ll notice that there are no shadows on the models face and this will accentuate their eyes while making their nose appear smaller.
The key light is the most important light in the shot. Typically, this light is in front and to the side of where the model is sitting and is either the closest light to the model or is the most powerful light in the photographer is using. In fact, when you look at a portrait, many times you can tell where the key light has been placed by looking for the highlights in the models eyes. When photographers are trying to create a dramatic look they will often times use only the key light because this will create a harsh shadow on one side of the models face while illuminating the opposite side.
The fill light is typically positioned in front of the model and to the opposite side as the key light. This light is used to fill in shadows on the models face and will give the photograph and much softer look and many times, a photographer will push the Ffill light back away from the model in order to disperse the light more evenly across the models face. The photograph to the right demonstrates the use of both the key light and the fill light in a proper way, which gives the model a slight shadow on the left side of her nose, however, the photograph below was taken with both the key light and fill light flashing with equal power, essentially turning the fill light into another key light.
The back light (also called a hair, rim or shoulder light) is positioned directly behind and above the model giving them a contour of light around their hair and figure making the photograph much more professional and dramatic. The photograph to the left, demonstrates the use of a back light by illuminating a rim of light over her shoulders separating the dark gray shirt from the gray background. (DiCasaFilm, 2012)