Almost any type of light can be used for portrait photography. This includes natural light such as the
sun, as well as artificial light such as electronic flash.
a. Sunlight. The sun, with its different forms of illumination, (daylight, skylight, and window
light) is the major source of natural illumination for portraits. Although the sun can be used as a source
of light for studio portraits, it is used primarily for location portraiture.
b. Artificial Light. Most types of artificial light can be used for portrait photography as long as
the intensity is sufficient to permit fairly short exposures. Short exposures are desired because it is
difficult to keep a subject motionless during a long exposure.
For color portraits, the color quality of the light source should be the same as that for which the film is
balanced. Of all the artificial light sources available, electronic flash is the best light source for portrait
It provides a large output of light without the annoying heat produced by incandescent
The extremely short duration of the flash will stop any subject movement.
The color temperature of the light is compatible with daylight and the flash can be used
with daylight film.
(1) Studio electronic flash units. Electronic flash units specifically designed for portraiture
usually have tungsten modeling lamps incorporated in the center of the reflector and are physically
located near the electronic flash tube. The modeling lamps provide constant, low intensity illuminations
on the subject or background. This allows the photographer to see the lighting effect that will be
produced when the electronic flash units are fired.
Studio electronic flash units are divided into two broad classifications: those that project a relatively
narrow cone of concentrated, crisp light and those that project a broad area of softer, more diffuse light.
(2) Spotlight. A spotlight projects a narrow, highly concentrated, crisp
beam of light produced by an undiffused clear flash tube. A fresnel lens, either alone
or with a small mirror-finished reflector, is used to direct and focus the