Front Lighting {Free Beginner Photography Class}

I’m going to keep these specific angles (front, side, and back lighting) super short and sweet.  Mainly because I don’t think a lot of words is going to accomplish a great deal.  I will be pulling in as many images to illustrate the type of light that I’m talking about and draw just a few conclusions on where I think that lighting type is best utilized. Ready?

Front Lighting

Front lighting falls across the front of your subject.  In portraiture, that’s usually the subject’s face.

Front lighting is often soft and flat which means it has very little shadows creating contrast.

I like front lighting with young or romantic subjects where I want a soft feel to the image and little drama.

However, front lighting’s danger is squinting!  With your subject looking at a very bright light source, they will often squint 🙁

Here’s a quick look at some front lit imagery.

My lights were positioned on either side of me, producing a flat even light with little shadows except behind the baby.


Sedryn: mud baby

Yes, that is a leaf plastered in his hair. 🙂 It’s about 4pm so the sun isn’t super high but is still very harsh. He’s standing in just a tiny bit of open shade and facing out toward the sun. Despite the mud, he has a very even light on his face.


Construction School for Wives

This image is taken right around noon. The sun is high above us producing a flat light on the parts of our hands facing up and deep shadowing underneath us. If you have to shoot during full sun and can’t find open shade, laying your subject on their backs looking up is a great option if the sun isn’t so bright that it causes squinting.


Lean on me

The light here is not fully front/flat. It’s coming from above my left shoulder as indicated by the shadowing on the man’s lower jaw. But all and all, this is mostly front lit.


Front Lighting

Sneaking in an old Instagram image of me and my baby boy at the clinic. He was so snuggly and feverish during this bout of RSV. As you can see from the reflection in my glasses, the light was directly above the two of us. This created even tones in his hair. You can see that I have turned my face just slightly so that the light is shading the far side of my face, making me slightly side lit.


If you have questions or concerns, stick them in the comments and I’ll try to answer.

For a final lighting assignment, I’ll have you take a front, side, and back lit image along with an image or two of using lighting modification and available light.  You can start working on that now, or you can wait until it’s ‘due’ as the lighting series finishes up.  My goal throughout this series is mainly to get you to notice the lighting you’re using and learn when you may want to move your subject if possible.