Hard Light

hard light

noun, Cinematography.
– directed light, especially light whose beams are relatively parallel, producing distinct shadows and a harsher modeling effect on the subject.


Image from our photo series “Winter Wonder Glam” 

I have a saying when it comes to my personal style of photography: “Some may like to play with light; I enjoy playing with shadows.”

Hard light creates clearly defined shadows that add depth and character to your photographic scene, and although it is less forgiving and will show blemishes and wrinkles, I have always preferred to use hard light when photographing my subjects – especially when I want the work of the make up artist to pop.

In this photo series, I worked with make up artist Kat ( Glam By Kat) , and bow-maker Elizabeth Marie, co-owner of Bow-Tiki (both were also the models in this series).

The theme of the series was winter dolls, hence the name “Winter Wonder Glam”: A bond between a ‘good doll’ and an ‘evil doll’.
I used hard light to enhance the make up, and to show off the character of the dolls. The shadow helped bring out the natural brilliance of the hair, and illuminates the bows.
By creating these shadows, and positioning the models facing my key light, I was able to eliminate the unwanted shadows like the popular “halo” shadows in the background. I aimed the focus lights on my subjects face to create a dramatic feel with out so many edges.
 Click on the image to view full size


Equipment Used:

  • Two soft boxes with no diffuser (to create the hard light; 2 bulbs in each soft box)
  • Day light temperature bulbs
  • Cool white temperature bulbs
  • Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II
  • White back drop


Playing with shadows and/or hard light may be challenging. Go crazy…Have fun with it! Explore and experiment by not only positioning your subject, but your lighting as well.


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