Side lighting is one of the main techniques used in stage and portrait photography. It is also a very flattering light that is suitable for all ages and appearances. Side lighting can be used to show off your model’s bone structure, facial features, and body shape.

Side lighting comes from a 45 degree angle to the left or right of your subject (or at 45 degrees diagonally from your camera over your subject).

If the light falls on your subject from the front, then it will create flat-looking, shadowless photographs.

If you use backlighting or front lighting, then you will get shadows, which show depth and definition but are not as flattering to the face.

Side lighting can be used in any situation that requires a portrait but it works especially well in low-key pictures.

What Is side lighting

What Is side lighting in photography?

Side lighting is a technique used to add shape and volume to the subject. The light comes from the side of the subject and gives it a more three-dimensional look.

It is also often referred to as “rim light” or “hair light.”

Side lighting means that the light source is coming from the side of your subject. It creates shadows, but it also makes your subject appear rounder and more three-dimensional than standard front lighting.

Using light to create dimension is one way you can take average pictures and make them stand out.

You can even make photographs taken with standard flash, which would normally look flat, look more professional by adding some side lighting.



You don’t have to use fancy studio lights or expensive equipment for this technique.

If you want to try using side lighting for yourself, you can do it with just a simple flashlight or desk lamp pointed at your subject from the side.

The important thing to remember about using this type of lighting is that you want the light source to be behind your camera so that it doesn’t show up in your photo.

What Is Side Lighting?

There are several variations of side lighting.

For example, you can have direct (strong) side lighting with harsh shadows, so it is not really flattering for all face shapes or skin types.

You can also have diffused (light) side lighting with soft shadows.This creates a more flattering effect for most people as there are no harsh shadows visible under the eyes or other facial features.

The following diagram shows how to set up your side lighting photo lights.Side lighting is a form of light that is used in photography.

It is very useful for highlighting the shape and form of any object or person. It is a fairly simple process to use, and it can produce great results when used properly.


Side lighting is used in photography to produce an image that provides good definition and accentuates the natural curves of whatever it is being applied to.

This can be especially helpful in creating photos of people, such as portraits, as it will provide clear definition to the face and help create a more attractive look.

When using side lighting, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. The first thing you must understand is how the light itself works.

Side lighting tends to come from your left or right, depending on your direction.It will always be slightly behind you, allowing you to see your subject’s face but providing a shadow effect that accentuates the features.

It will be at about a 45-degree angle from your subject so that the light does not directly hit them but rather falls off into an area behind them.

Side lighting will never hit your subject from the front or behind, only from one side or another.

What Is Side Lighting In Photography Used For?

Side lighting is a photography technique used to create shadows on one side of an object, making the other side more visible. It’s commonly used for photographing objects that have flat surfaces, such as cars and paintings, because the shadows highlight details.

Tone:Efficient product photography requires well-planned lighting. Side lighting is one of the most basic and effective means of creating depth and detail in your photos.

Principle of Side Lighting in PhotographySide light (also known as edge light) produces shadows on the side of an object opposite to the source of illumination. The resulting contrast between light and shadow adds depth and detail to the photograph, making it more visually interesting than a picture that was lit with frontal or top light only.

When and How to Use Side Lighting in Photography?Side lighting is commonly used to capture images of products with flat surfaces, such as cars, paintings and still life objects. The side light can also be used to emphasize texture or pattern when photographing fabrics, wallpapers, wood grains or most any object that has distinctive markings or surface texture.

Since side lighting emphasizes texture and creates strong contrasts between bright areas and shadow areas in your photos, you should use this type of illumination for object photography only when the textures youSide lighting is a type of lighting in which the light source is located to one side of the subject, resulting in a shadow on the opposite side of the subject. The effect is most striking when there is a strong contrast between light and dark areas in the subject, with large areas of black or near-black in deep recesses, and bright highlights on raised surfaces.

Typically this means that the subject is lit from an angle such as the left or right.Side Lighting PhotographySide lighting can create dramatic, high-contrast images.

It’s especially popular for portraiture because it can reveal fine details in skin texture, as well as giving an impression of three-dimensionality when used with facial shadows.SIDE LIGHTING FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHYSide lighting provides a strong sense of depth because shadows fall on different planes of the face.

This works particularly well for full-length portraits where you can see details from the top of their head to their feet.Side lighting also creates striking silhouettes and accentuates facial features such as eyebrows, cheekbones and lips.

When you’re composing a portrait shot with side lighting, it’s important to keep your camera level so that your subject’s features are not distorted by sloping.

Side Light Photography Tutorial

Lighting is everything! It can make or break a photo. While there are photographers who love using natural light, most photographers prefer using artificial light.


The fact that you need to use artificial light doesn’t mean that you should purchase an expensive lighting setup.In fact, many professional photographers use inexpensive lighting fixtures to get the job done.

For example, I use two household lamps and a reflector to create beautiful images for my client’s products.Example of Side Lighting (in the picture above)Let’s take a look at some of the key factors in creating side lit photography.

1) What is side lit photography?Side lit photography refers to the placement of your light source from your camera’s perspective. In this case, I’m referring to the placement of the light in relation to the subject matter.

I’ll go over that below.But first, you need to know how side lit photographs are different from other types of photography where the light source is placed directly above the subject matter.

When you place your light source directly above your subject matter, it creates very harsh shadows and results in what we call three-point lighting.Side lighting is a great way to showcase the textures of products and people.

If you are looking for a dramatic portrait, this technique may be your best bet.Side light has an interesting characteristic in that it will cause a person’s eyes to naturally look in the direction of the light.

The effect is most pronounced when people are facing directly toward or away from the light source.This lighting technique works well for individuals but also for large groups.

It can work well for both lifestyle photography and product photography.Here are some tips to consider when using side lighting:* Side lighting works best if you have a strong directional light source.

This could be the sun, or perhaps a large softbox on a flash head. Other light sources, while they might work, will not provide as much directionality.* A lens with a wider aperture (a lower f-stop number) will give you more depth of field.

If you’re like me, this is something you’ll always want with portraiture.* When shooting someone who’s facing away from the light source, turn the head slightly into the light so that your subject’s eyes are looking at you.

This is really only effective if your subject is looking directly at you before turning.* Shoot close to your subject when using.

When Should You Use Side Lighting?

Side light is a big trend in food photography, but it’s not right for every shot. When should you use side light? When should you avoid it?Side lighting has a lot of advantages: it gives your food an appetizing glow; it highlights the texture of the food; and it’s easy to set up.

It doesn’t require any additional equipment and you can do it anywhere.However, there are also some disadvantages to side light.

Side lighting can sometimes make your food look flat or it can cast shadows that make your food look unnatural. Side lighting can also wash out the color of your food making them look dull.

Before you decide to use side light, ask yourself these questions:What kind of photo am I trying to achieve? If you’re trying to create a professional image for your business then using side light might be perfect for you. But if you’re trying to create an artistic image where color is critical, then side lighting might not be right for you.

Do my products have enough color? If your products don’t have much color, then side lighting might be a good idea. If they already have a lot of their own color, then they won’t benefit as much from side lighting.

Side lighting is used to enhance the contours of a product. It helps to emphasize depth and volume of a specific item.

Side lighting is also very good for capturing reflections and glistening effects on jewelry, glassware, or any shiny product. You can use it for highlighting textures or for adding catchlights in your subject’s eyes.

Side lighting is often combined with top lighting or backlighting (both described below). But side lighting can be quite effective on its own, as long as you keep in mind the following rules.

Rule 1: The light source should be placed near the camera and at a 45 degree angle to the subject, but not directly behind it. In other words, the source should be to the left or right of the camera.

Rule 2: The light should fall on one side of your subject only, preferably on its left side (for right-handed people).Rule 3: The effect works best when lighting includes some specular highlights (highlights that are very distinct and sharp).

If you’re using a flash, consider using a diffuser to soften the light just a bit.

Tips For Using Side Lighting For Portraits

If you are looking for a new method to capture photographs of your friends and family, it is probably best if you consider trying out side lighting. This is a great technique for portraits and it can give the subject a very unique look.

Side lighting can be used for both indoor and outdoor shots. It is one of the most popular techniques because it allows the photographer to create dramatic images that would not be possible with other lighting techniques.

Side lighting produces shadows on the face, which highlights different features. It also makes the person stand out from the background and helps to remove distractions from the photo.

Here are some tips for using side lighting:

1) Position your subject so that they are facing away from the sun or other source of light: Most of your subjects will have their back turned toward the light source, but it is important to make sure that they are not casting a shadow on themselves or in front of them.

2) Use shadows to highlight features: Side lighting will create shadows on your subject’s face, so try to use these shadows to emphasize different features that you want people to notice. For example, if you want someone’s eyes to stand out, then place them in a shadow created by their nose or cheekbones. You can also place shadows below.

Side Lighting For Portraits

Side lighting enables you to create more natural images, as it will produce more realistic shadows and a softer light. The most common use of side lighting is for portrait photography.

Side Lighting For Portraits | How To Create Side LightYou should be aware that there are three different types of side lighting: high, low, and flat. If you are shooting outdoors and the sun is to your left or right, then you will be using high-side light.

If, on the other hand, the sun is behind you and you are facing the subject, then your subject will be lit from the low-side. Finally, if the sun is behind your subject, then it will have flat side light.

You can create varying degrees of depth by using different amounts of fill light. The effect gained by using one type of side light over another will vary based on how much light you allow in through the lens, so it is important to understand how exposure works before attempting any type of side lighting (you can learn all about exposure in my book Understanding Exposure).

How To Use Side Light For Landscapes

Landscape photography is one of the most popular genres of photography, but it’s not easy to master. Learning to use side light for landscapes can be very helpful in creating a more powerful image.

Tropical sunsets are some of the most beautiful and striking images that you can capture on film. They’re also rather difficult because of the harsh light and contrast. When sun rays reach the earth at a low angle at sunset, they will penetrate the atmosphere scattering through a greater distance.

This produces a longer path of travel that allows more of the atmosphere’s particles to scatter light into your camera lens creating an image with a long diffusion range which results in soft contrast edges, less contrast and color saturation resulting in pastel colors, and an overall warmer tonal range.

A long-exposure side lighting technique is particularly useful when landscapes require highlight detail, since it minimizes contrast in order to preserve delicate highlight details.

Side lighting can be used effectively to produce silhouettes or silhouetted shapes that are darker than their background. It can also be used to create images that have a shallow depth of field where only part of the image is in focus while other parts are blurry or out-of-focus which is ideal for shots with little or no foreground interest.

In my opinion, side light is one of the most powerful tools in a photographer’s kit. I love to use it for landscapes, but there are many other situations where side light can be used to fine effect.

It’s more difficult to master than front light, so it requires more practice.Side light has a number of benefits:It separates the subject from its background; it illuminates the subject and adds depth by revealing textures, patterns and shapes that would otherwise be lost in shadow; you get long shadows which give definition and create form; you can create silhouettes – this is particularly effective in landscape photography; It makes the colours in your image “pop” because the contrast between the lit and unlit areas is greater than when using front lighting.

All these effects can be used to enhance your images or just to create different moods. A good example of where side lighting is essential is photographing a metallic surface such as metal jewellery or a car.

The shape of the object is clearly defined because there are no reflections from a shiny surface – the highlights are elsewhere.

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Benefits Of Side Lighting

Horizontal lighting is a popular choice for taking product photos for online stores, be it eCommerce or otherwise. While it isn’t as common as top and bottom lighting, it does have several advantages that you might want to consider.

Image Source: The Fstoppers

These are the most common angles of lighting used for photography:

Top Lighting: This is the most common type of lighting in photography, especially when it comes to taking photos of people. It’s a good choice if you’re going for a more dramatic look.

Bottom Lighting: This is opposite to top lighting. You’ll want to place your light source at the bottom in order to achieve a well-lit photograph.

A downside of this is that if the source is too close, you will get shadows on your subject’s face.Side Lighting: Side lighting is achieved by placing one light source on one side and one on the other, with your subject in between them.

If you use two soft boxes or two diffusers, then you can control how much light goes on your subject versus the background.This technique works best if you want to show off your product’s design details and shape rather than its true color.

Lighting is a key factor in the design of any scene. It can set the mood and atmosphere, drawing the viewer into the painting with its subtle play of light and shadow.

This example shows an image of an athlete holding a basketball with side lighting. Side lighting casts shadows across areas of the subject creating depth.

The shadows also emphasize texture. This is particularly evident with the clothing, hair, and skin.

The key to successful side lighting is to keep it even across the subject. If there are brighter areas, such as on the upper right side of this image, those areas will draw attention away from the focal point, which is the face.

Side lighting has the most flattering effect on any subject. If you don’t have a good source of side light, try using a large white reflector to bounce in some much-needed illumination.

You can also try shooting with the light coming from the back — this is called backlighting and is popular in portraiture and glamour photography.TIP: Shoot outdoors when possible because you’ll get a soft, diffused look to your photos.

Indoors, you can use lamps and window light for side lighting. Be sure to adjust the color temperature of your camera so that it matches the ambient light as closely as possible (see “Setting White Balance”).

How To Create Side Light Photography

Side light photography is a great type of photography to use if you want to create unique and interesting photographs. You can get some stunning effects with side light photography and it may take a bit of practice to do it well.

Note: All photographs in this article have been shot at ISO 200, f5.6 and 1/160 second unless otherwise noted.

The main thing you will have to work out when shooting side light photography is the angle of the sunlight falling on your subject matter. This is because you will be shooting into the sun most of the time rather than away from it like in normal outdoor shots.

You will find that using your flash is not an option as this will cause an ugly red eye effect on your subjects so you will need to use natural lighting in most cases.*Getting the right angle for side light photographyWhen working out the best angle you need to shoot at, remember that you are trying to get an even spread of sunlight hitting your subject matter evenly.

If you are taking pictures of a person or object, then try and keep them facing towards the sun so they are directly in its path. This means that no part of their body will be casting any sort of shadow over another part.

Side light photography is the most beautiful and flattering type of light. The key to creating the effect is to place the subject between the source of light and a reflective surface so that light bounces off the surface and creates a reflection on one side of the subject.

It’s important that you get your subject as close to this position as possible so that they are not in front of, or behind, the main source of light.TIP: Light can be reflected off just about anything; try using mirrors, windows, colored walls or even water features.

The more reflective surfaces you use to bounce light into your scene, the brighter and more dramatic your photo will appear.Arrange your scene as desired.

Then find a bright point source of natural light from behind you and position it directly over your subject’s head (if you’re shooting outdoors) or at their shoulder level (if you’re inside). If you are outside, make sure there is no shade nearby blocking the sun.

The size of the reflector doesn’t matter so much as its brightness does. You want it to be large enough to fill in shadows if you’re shooting indoors and small enough if you’re shooting outdoors that it won’t cast a shadow on your subject.

Three-Point Lighting Setup

In the world of photography, there are a few different types of light setups. The first is called three-point lighting.

It’s by far the most common type used, and it’s great for taking professional-looking product photos – like the one above!TTL stands for “Through The Lens.” This method allows you to place your camera lens directly in between a flash and the subject.

What this does is create a shadow behind your product — this is perfect because you want the light source to be hidden from the viewer.The three points of light that we’re talking about in this article are:Key Light: This light will illuminate your subject, and is typically placed at a 45 degree angle approximately 30 degrees above your subject (so if you were taking a picture of me right now, it would be roughly over my right shoulder).

  1. Fill Light: This light is meant to fill in all of the shadows created by your key light. It should be placed on the opposite side of your subject, at roughly a 90 degree angle (if I were taking a picture of you right now, it would be over your left shoulder).
  2. Back Light: This can be either natural or artificial light that has been modified to act as back.

The most common photography technique to create product imagery is called 3-point lighting. This setup uses three lights and can be accomplished with two lights and a reflector (to fill in shadows).

It’s basically a softbox on either side of the subject, and a reflector to bounce light back onto the product from the opposite angle of the key light.Reflectors come in different sizes and colors.

The bigger the reflector, the softer it’s going to be. The color of your reflector will have an impact on how warm or cool your image is going to look.

When you’re photographing products, you want it to look like you can reach out and touch them. You don’t want them to have shadows under them so it looks like a miniature you’re looking at from above.

It should look like a photograph you would hang on your wall.It should not look like something that came from a catalog or something that came off of an assembly line somewhere.

If you want to learn 3-point lighting, there are many videos online where photographers go step by step through how they created their photos, as well as YouTube tutorials that explain this process in great detail.

When Not To Use Side Lighting

A beginner’s biggest mistake is overusing side lighting. It’s the easiest trick to pull off and it looks the best, but you have to know when to use it and when not to.

To give your product a sense of depth in a photo, place it under or beside a light source so that it appears to be backlit. The trick to this technique is getting the angle of the light right – you want to position it so that it’s shining on your product at an angle.

If you place your object in front of the light source, there will be no shadow, and therefore no sense of depth. Another thing you need to watch out for is shadows.

If you’re using a flash or camera flash, make sure no shadow falls on your subject, because this will ruin the picture. You should also avoid placing your product in front of a window, especially if there is direct sunlight coming through.

This can ruin photos because sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation and this can damage both film and digital cameras.There are a lot of different ways to light objects in photography. The most popular and common is to use top lighting.

This is where the light source is placed above the item being photographed. This type of lighting works well for most items, but you do not want to use it in every instance.

Trying to photograph a shiny or mirrored object using top lighting will result in glare on the surface of the subject. You will want to avoid using side lighting in this situation.

Side lighting will cause any reflective surfaces to cast a reflection onto your subject, which may distort its shape or appearance.Light should be coming from over the shoulder of the item being photographed, and then reflected off of any shiny or mirrored surfaces at a 90 degree angle into your lens.

To further illustrate this concept, we have provided an example below:A common mistake photographers make with side lighting is trying to take advantage of natural light by shooting outdoors on a sunny day. While this does make for some pretty pictures, it does not work for products that are trying to show off their outer appearance and shine, such as jewelry and cars.