Exploring Split Lighting Techniques for Striking Portraits

2 min read

Split lighting is a technique that involves placing the light source at a 90-degree angle to the subject, essentially splitting their face into two halves – one fully illuminated and the other in shadow. This technique is popular in portrait photography as it adds a sense of mystery and intrigue to the image.

Advantages of using Split Lighting:

  • Dramatic Effect: Split lighting creates a striking contrast between light and shadow, resulting in a dramatic and moody atmosphere.
  • Emphasis on Facial Features: By dividing the face into two halves, split lighting allows you to highlight specific features, such as sharp cheekbones or a prominent jawline.
  • Creates Depth: The interplay between light and shadow adds depth and dimension to your portraits, giving them a three-dimensional effect.
  • Enhances Mood: Split lighting adds a touch of mystery and intrigue to your images, evoking different emotions depending on the placement of shadows and highlights.

Key Takeaways for Exploring Split Lighting Techniques:

  • Positioning: Place the light source at a 90-degree angle to the subject to split their face into two halves.
  • Light Intensity: Adjust the intensity of the light to control the contrast between light and shadow.
  • Modifiers: Experiment with light modifiers such as softboxes or umbrellas to diffuse or direct the light.
  • Position of Shadows: Experiment with the placement of shadows to achieve the desired mood and emphasis on facial features.
  • Practice: Like any photography technique, mastering split lighting requires practice, so keep experimenting and refining your skills.

Industry Statistics on Split Lighting:

Although there is a lack of specific industry statistics on the usage of split lighting, it is widely recognized and employed by portrait photographers worldwide. Techniques like split lighting have been used for decades to create stunning and captivating portraits.


Incorporating split lighting techniques into your portrait photography can take your images to the next level. By dividing the face into light and shadow, split lighting adds drama, depth, and emphasizes specific facial features. Experiment with different lighting setups, adjust the light intensity, and position shadows to create striking and memorable portraits that capture your subject’s essence. Keep practicing, and soon you’ll be able to master this powerful lighting technique and create impressive portraits that leave a lasting impact on viewers.

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