Shaping a Model’s Face with a Single Light

On this video, photographer Daniel Norton from Adorama demonstrates how changing the angle of light changes the way a model’s face will look.

This video is both basic and important. If you are shooting a lot of portraits (it can be with a single light, multi light or even to some degree ambient light) you need to be able to predict in advance how the light will affect the image that you will be getting (always plan ahead and it can save you lots of headache later).

The demonstration shows how the more you lift the light up at an angle you get less of a flat look and more contrast (this isn’t necessarily good or bad – it really depends on the look that you are looking for – but you need to be aware of this). The higher you go the more contrast and shadows you will create.

If you want to fill those shadows you can use a second light but a simpler way would be to use a reflector from beneath that will help fill the darker parts in the face – simple, basic, but important to understand and remember for your next shoot.

This isn’t the first time that we have been looking at the way you can shape a model’s face with light. In the past, we have seen photographers Christian Hough and Chris Reeve look at different ways to light a face using a simple one light setup and how it can affect the “shape” of the face, making it look different.

You can check out many more helpful photography tips on our Photography tips section here on LensVid as well as more specific lighting tips here. You can watch more of Norton’s videos here.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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