How to: Light Models Dramatically in 1 Minute.

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Lighting is easier than you think. 

Hello fellow creatives!  This post goes out to the photographers and videographers who want to make their photography more dramatic!  Maybe you’re new, maybe you’ve been shooting for a while… sometimes it’s nice to see how someone else does something and change up our own styles a bit! 

Today we’ll be giving an example we took from inside our studio.  While it’s true that we have pleeeenty of natural light at our studio, sometimes less is more. 


Here’s a photo of the studio during the day with some sunlight coming in. 

This photo was shot at F4 | ISO 500 | 24mm | 1/800s shutter speed. 

So that means that at F2.8, and ISO 400 and shutter speed 1/160 – 1/320 you would have a TON of bright natural light illuminating your camera’s sensor, making it look super bright in the photo. But what if that’s not what you wanted to do?  What if you wanted to take advantage of the stopped down, exposure for the white tones to make your image more dramatic? 

Well let’s take a look at how that same photo looks like with those last settings I just described, let’s see how bright that would be. 


Is this dramatic?  Hardly. 

Why not?  It’s too bright, there’s no mystery.  Literally the entire image is fully lit and there’s no shadow, everything is revealed to you, leaving nothing to the imagination! 

While this is a great way to light things commercially, to showcase all of the features of the studio for example, it fails HARD at being a mysteriously captivating image because of all of the light in it. 

So, let’s apply what we just learned about limiting our light, and let’s use the curtains to control some of that light and flag off most of it, leaving only a single streak to illuminate a female model! 

Enter, Gretchen, our lovely model.


Can you see the difference?  FYI, this is ZERO tone adjustment, ZERO contrast slider adjustment.  This is LITERALLY how the photo came out. 

However, on the production itself, what we did was also add a little extra depth by turning on the blue LED lights and neon thunderbolt, so that our shadows could be more blueish purple and create a more interesting color cast. 

We’ve also photoshopped a bit of a light flare coming from the window so that it looks as if the light is leaking into the studio. But literally this photo is RAW on a flat colour profile with the lights raised a bit to bring out her skin.  No dodge / burn applied.

As always, it helps to have a wonderful model so that as a photographer you can focus on controlling the light, and letting the model work her own magic!  On that note, may I take a moment to shine some light on Gretchen who was a pleasure to work with and had a great amazing attitude and banged out ALL the poses FLAWLESSLY! 

So if you’re looking for a great model with whom to work, hit her up, her rates are very reasonable and she will make your job 10x easier since you can focus on being a photographer and not worry about how to make her look her best–she’s got you!  Reach our to Gretchen here!

Anyway, thanks for reading our lovely tutorial, I’m super excited to see what y’all create!  It does NOT have to be in our studio–the only reason I share these are because this is where I shoot.  Wherever you create your stuff, I’d love to see what you make! 

Oh and PS here’s the Instagram edited version optimized for mobile, on mobile! 🙂  That’s why it appears a lot more colourful on your computer screen.

Want to book our studio and try this yourself?


THAT Toronto Studio | Toronto Photo Studio for Rent


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