Side lighting in photography is a great way to bring out the beauty of your subject. It’s a simple and effective technique that can be used to create stunning images. Side lighting is when the light source is placed to one side of the subject and angled slightly towards them. This creates a dramatic look with strong shadows and highlights, adding depth and texture to the image. Below is an image I captured of barber Martin Young, where the light source was natural light from a window.
When using side lighting, it’s important to pay attention to the angle of the light and the position of your subject. You want the light to be slightly off-centre so that the shadows and highlights are more noticeable. You also want to make sure that your subject is in the same plane as the light so that they’re evenly lit. Using a reflector can be a great way to soften the shadows created by side lighting. Reflectors are used to bounce light back onto the subject, filling in the shadows and creating a more balanced look. The size and colour of the reflector will depend on the light source and the type of look you’re going for.
It’s also important to pay attention to the background when using side lighting. Darker backgrounds will help to create a more dramatic look and will bring out the highlights and shadows on your subject, as shown in one of my studio shots below. Lighter backgrounds will create a softer and more subtle look.
When creating a side lighting look, it’s important to keep your subject in focus and to use the right aperture and shutter speed to capture the light in the best way. On a smarphone this means shooting in manual/pro mode (android cameras have this by default, with iphone you'll need an app) so that you can control the exposure and keep the shadows as dark as you like without the phone's HDR mode making that decison for you. You also want to make sure that your camera is set to the correct white balance so that colors are accurately captured.
Using side lighting in photography can be a great way to create stunning images. With the right technique, you can create beautiful images that show off your subject in a unique and creative way.