Film Noir Lighting

I like to experiment with different lighting setups. Usually, when I am photographing women, I will use big, soft lighting, often coming from two, three of four lights, to provide a flattering portrait.  Stephanie, pictured above, was gracious and brave enough to allow me to try a very different lighting setup. I’m calling this a film noir look. Can you picture Stephanie in the film of a Raymond Chandler hard-boiled mystery from the 1950’s? I hope so – but not as the bad guy, of course!

In this image, I used one light, above and to camera left, with a bare bulb in a small reflector. See the very small catchlights in her eyes – the catchlights are always a key to how the lighting was arranged. This is about as harsh a lighting setup as I could come up with. The advantage of this lighting is the very dramatic and contrasty look. The viewer definitely gets a three-dimensional sense of the contours of the face.  The black background is designed to add to the drama. 

Below are two other images from the shoot – with more traditional lighting. Quite a difference, no? questions and comments, as always, are much appreciated.


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