For front-on portraits there are several well known, tried and true, styles of lighting: Rembrandt, Paramount/Butterfly, Split etc

However I am wanting to take some profile (side-on) portraits. So:

What are the well known, tried and true, styles of lighting for profile portraits?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not do a test shoot, place your soft box at various side angles And distances, and a reflective White or non-reflective black- board on the opposite side of the model at various angles and distances and see what you like best ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Feb 19, 2020 at 21:21
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @AlaskaMan I do plan on doing that. However some guidance means I will do less 're-inventing the wheel', and more fine tuning the look I want. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 19, 2020 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ The styles of lighting are still the same... without knowing what kind of look you want from the profile images, it's impossible to suggest configurations that might be suitable. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 20, 2020 at 15:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarcyThomas i was Implying that you invent your own wheel, not re invent an existing one, You did not tell us "the look you want" \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Feb 20, 2020 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


Try Googling for "Profile Portrait Lighting". Here a a few examples:

Rim Lighting For Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

How to Light and Pose a Profile Portrait

Portrait Lighting for Profiles

Have Fun!

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a link-only answer, which is not a good answer for Stack Exchange sites. Please summarize the information found at the links you provided. See also: Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?, and Are answers that just contain links elsewhere really “good answers”? \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Feb 20, 2020 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I stand corrected, the other answers are much better. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 20, 2020 at 20:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ You've been around long enough to know this doesn't qualify as an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 21, 2020 at 9:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know how you put details of tutorials in an answer without violating copyright, but hey rules are rules and need to be enforced. I defer to the other answers. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2020 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarcyThomas - Did you get any use from my answer? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 24, 2020 at 5:12

I'm going to try to provide an answer that others may find useful, and which explains why your question cannot really be answered... starting with this picture of Rembrandt lighting.

This is created by having a light source that is approximately 45* off center and ~ 30* above eyeline. It is called Rembrandt lighting because it creates the highlight triangle on the cheek opposite the light.

enter image description here

Now, if the subject turns a bit more towards the light, then the shadow from the nose will shorten and the triangle will break. It is then called "loop lighting" because the nose shadow makes a loop within the highlight area on the cheek opposite. If the subject turns even farther to be facing the light direction it becomes "paramount lighting," with all shadows below. And then if you add a second light source from below to fill in/kill the shadows it becomes "butterfly lighting."

The image is also an example of split lighting, because there is a (nearly) 50/50 split of lit side and shadow side. If the camera was moved to the left where most of the recorded face was the lit side it would be "broad lighting". And if the camera was moved to the right to where it is recording the shadow side it would be "short lighting."

In other words, pretty much every lighting style mentioned is created in essentially the same way; what differs is the result...


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