When in doubt - broad or short?


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Jun 20, 2008
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I know that using broad or short lighting will help make the victim look either thinner or heavier, as needed. However, if you have an average person who doesn't need help in either direction, to which do you normally default?
When in doubt, I would go for thinner. Especially when shooting women.
I would certainly default to short lighting...as that is the one that lights up the front/mask of the face...as opposed to broad lighting, which lights up the head, rather than just the face.

Another thing to be aware of, is that with short lighting, you're much more likely to get glare from glasses. With broad lighting, it's practically non-existent. When I was shooting my head shot for my profile (see my avatar), I wanted to use short lighting...but it was hard to avoid the glare (especially as it was a selfie)...so I switched to broad.

But really, while broad vs short certainly should be something that you're thinking about, it should be less important than finding a lighting position/pattern that looks good for your subject/victim.
Learning to evaluate someone's face and being able to easily find something that looks good for them, is a very good skill to have. Sometimes you just have to try it and see.
Thank you, Mike. Very informative.

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