The Secret to Soft, Dreamy Light Using a Single LED

One of the first things any portrait photographer should learn is how to create soft, flattering light.

The thing is, most people want to look good in portraits, and making them do exactly that is a great skill to have. But with an ever-growing number of lights out there, it can be hard to learn about specific equipment. Instead, in this video, I share the basics of how to approach light on a more fundamental, ontological level rather than what settings to use. It's probably more fun that way: to figure out the little hiccups yourself through trial and error, if you have the basics down.

Arguably, the golden rule of light is that the larger the light source, relative to the subject, the softer the light. And again, as a basic rule, softer light is much easier to learn and work with and makes most people look flattering. So in that sense, it's good to learn the basics before learning something slightly more unforgiving, like harsh hard light.

Anyway, I digress. In the video, I share a basic lighting setup using an LED light (so that you can use it for video as well as still images if you prefer). I use some basic studio equipment light a diffuser and reflectors, but if you’re starting out, definitely feel free to get creative!

I’d love to see if you end up using this so share your images if you do.

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6 Comments
J M Diaz's picture

You lost me in ontological. ;)

Ali Choudhry's picture

Why is that?

Mike Shwarts's picture

Wow. A two minute video to say shine the light through a diffuser.

Ali Choudhry's picture

Don't forget the reflectors!

Paul Trantow's picture

Yes on LEDs. And HELL YES on diffusing them. A 1x1 source sucks on anyone but a model. If you're shooting real people, diffuse that s#!t!

Ali Choudhry's picture

Absolutely!