Shadow portrait photography is an art of creating magic in a face using natural or artificial lighting. Firstly, creating a brilliant portrait needs the light source to be perfectly executed on the face and body of the subject. Secondly, there are variants of portrait photography and shadow portrait is a creative extension of them. Today, we are going to talk about shadow portrait photography, where we add a little twist to the normal portraits mixing up hard and soft lighting to produce dramatic results simultaneously. Moreover, the trick is to use different materials to create an art with shadows casted on the subject. In addition, shadow portrait is about giving attention to every minute detail such as lighting ratio, lighting pattern, facial view, and angle of view.

Lighting pattern plays a vital role in shadow portrait photography. The illumination of the subject, direction with proper intensity of light and shadow plays the role on the face or body to create different results. Similarly, shadow portrait photography is all about playing with the lights, shadows and the highlights.

There are different techniques of taking portrait photographs. The below images are to illustrate the result using only one light technique.

img_7038_edited_900_dts  img_7045_edited_900_dts


We can even introduce 1 or more lights to create different look on our subject as well.

In the photos below, we have used a rim light (back light) to demonstrate and highlight the subject’s hair and side from behind to make a separation with the background.





Meanwhile, we are going to explore some new techniques to extend the creativity of portrait photos using external shadow casting

Shadow Casting is a technique to show surface texture (generally in high detailing) on the subject. In photographs, people often seem to get confused about what a shadow really is. In fact, shadows are not fixed in shape. Based on the positioning, type and distance of the light, a shadow will change its shape and definition accordingly. The shadow will also change characteristics based on the object that it falls upon. Furthermore, this opens up room for a lot of creativity.


For this tutorial we are going to use some really simple DIY techniques to create some artistic portraits

In today’s shoot, we have used props like plants, leaves, a designer dupatta (multi-purpose scarf), and plastic net fences of different shapes to create shadows on the subject. In shadow portrait photography, using prop is an effective way to simulate creative ideas which results in exceptional look in your photography. Usage of materials or objects as a shadow changes the final look of your picture and adds an extra factor to it. The beauty of a shadow portrait emerges into a photo when you understand how to manipulate the shadow using the props (or any light obstructing material) and the placement of your subject. Moreover, the fusion of both in a perfect co-ordination gives you the desired effect of shadows in your portrait.


Here are few props and easily accessible products that we got to experiment today for this tutorial




Camera and equipment used for this tutorial:

>> Canon 5D Mark III

>> Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 Di VS USD lens

>> Yongnuo 568EX II speedlight

>> Elinchrome 600 Master FX strobe light

>> Flash snoot

>> 22” Beauty dish with silver diffuser

>> Elinchrome 100x100cm softbox for bouncing light

Now we can position our lights this way and get some really interesting results.
























Bonus Content!!

Since we were experimenting this time, we thought we will play around a little bit more and came out with some more interesting photos. Here’s have a look at one of the photo :)



Hope you liked our tutorial on this shadow portrait technique. However, sky is the limit, so go crazy and create some really interesting photos using the above tutorial and altering the props, the shadow size and the direction of light.

Bookmark our page for more interesting tutorials.

Till then have fun! And keep your cameras handy! ;)