What would be the best way to use light to make someone's face look evil, creepy or Machiavellian?


1 Answer 1


Hard light (i.e. a single bare lightsource) from underneath.

Look at any old black and white horror film and you'll see this technique used.

Or for a more modern example of the [mis]use of this technique see Jill Greenberg's photos of John McCain:


  • \$\begingroup\$ Hatchet lighting can work wonders as well; see Arnold Newman's portrait of Alfried Krupp for an example. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I dunno, is that misuse? Art is subjective. I think the cover photo of McCain portrays a tough, chiseled, veteran. Greenberg clearly acted unethically with her outtakes, unless the contract specifically gave her the rights ( I don't know, but it seems suspicious in the least ). Newman s portrait of Krupp ( iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/alfred-krupp ) comes to mind as a similar theme. If this is an issue, why aren't people complaining when a photographer takes a picture and makes the subject look better? The magazine had the power to reject all the photos as well. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 18, 2012 at 20:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Therealstubot I was referring to the out takes which where she pretended all the lights were on when only one strobe on the floor was firing, the technique is fine but to use it without permission to make you subject evil for political gain is misuse in my opinion! \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Oct 18, 2012 at 21:40

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