Using Shadows in Glamour Photography

Light illuminates; shadows define. Shadows add a sense of depth to a photograph. Shadows are the soul of a picture—Rick Sammon

Light has four major qualities: quality, quantity, color and direction and the least expensive lighting for glamour portraits is the sun. It’s free and even on cloudy days produces a wonderfully soft effect and it’s easy to use too. Under most lighting conditions your camera’s built-in meter will give anywhere from acceptable to perfect exposures.

megan.bwLearning to see the light is not difficult but takes some practice. As anyone seeking to master the art of exposure, seeing that light is the key mastering the art of exposure. If there’s any secret, it’s learning how to see the light falling on your subject, especially the range of shadows and highlights within a scene. The chiaroscuro, as the Italian Renaissance painters called it, is the effect of representing different contrasts of light to achieve a sense of three-dimensionality.

The model (above right) was photographed using window light in the living room of my former home using a Canon EOS 60D with a 22-55mm lens. Exposure was 1/50 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 400. Converted to monochrome with the free Silver Efex Pro and a touch of diffusion from the also free Glamour Glow filter that’s part of Color Efex Pro.

Joe is author of Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography that features information about using minimal equipment demonstrating how to shoot glamour portraits in available light situations or using minimal lighting like speedlights. Affordable new and used copies are available from

Author: Joe Farace

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