When it comes to lighting for portrait photography or any studio photography actually, is that there are basic rules to follow, but one you understand light and shadow works on the human body then only your imagination limits what you can do. For the photo in this article, it is a lighting that is often used in sports and athletics. With this setup, the two main lights are set to the left and right of the model. This will cast shadows across the body. On athletes, the muscles will pop and often with a dark background, you will see this look in sports magazines or the next time you are in your local gym, have a look at the lighting in the pictures on the wall.
This lighting was chosen for this shoot because we had a very fit model, so the muscle tone would show off great with side lighting. Also, to help replicate a statue, where the artist has spend a long time carving or chiseling out the muscles and features, this lighting will bring this out.
Now, unlike a workout style shoot, we wanted to keep everything bright and relatively soft. So we put the side lights in big strip boxes with double diffusers to soften and create direction with the light. Two strobes goboed or in our case with barn doors to limit the light spreading back onto the model.
Finally, we had a large softbox overhead feathered to just add some light to the hair and face and also even out the lighting on the white paper backdrop. Light on the face was important because most female portraits should be soft and well lit, no harsh shadows
Seems like a lot of lighting, but knowing what we were looking for from the beginning and understanding how the light falls and reacts to people, we were able to get the shot we wanted. Every light has a reason to get the image you have in your mind come to life
So, practice, practice and practice.
** Also note that in the lighting diagram, the model was actually 6 feet from the background so prevent too much light bouncing back and wrapping around the model and also into the camera lens creating a faded, washed out look. The shot was create on a Canon 5D Mk IV with a with my EF 24-105 F4 ( my go to lens ) shot at F11, ISO 200 at 50mm