Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 05: Lighting

Use light as a tool to perfect mobile portrait photography. Be it golden hour or overcast weather — you can use either condition to create a compelling story.

Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 03: Angles and Composition

Expert Level Portrait Tips Series


Greetings and welcome to Moment’s first ever article series debut. Featuring expert-level tips on creating stunning mobile portraiture (though, these rules can apply to any camera), we’ll dive deep on the ins and outs of what it means to capture a profile worth remembering. Through measures of unique posing, lighting, location ideas, and creative outlets for composition — we’ll dissect every detail it takes to compartmentalize the very component behind what makes excellent mobile photography. Let’s roll.

Use Light As A Tool

In the attempt to compose portrait photographs with an emphasis on the human subject, one thing that is often overlooked is lighting — a mistake that must be corrected, for light and skin are inextricably linked to one another. One of the best aspects of view is how it can dramatically change the same scene. The soft hue of overcast days evokes mystery and sad emotions, whereas golden sunsets or sunrises bring about a playful vibrancy. Though, no matter the weather, light interacts how we set our scene and tell our story.

Pouting at the knee.

Upwards angle while sitting down.

Golden Hour

Many photographers coin golden hour as the prime time to take a photo. The term refers to the hour before and after each sunrise and sunset. Their yummy and delicious golden light serves as the perfect backdrop for skin tones, scaled landscapes, and other magical scenes captured. When shooting during the golden hour, notice how warm your images will become. It’s an unbeatable representation of perfect lighting in photography, always try to shoot during this timeframe if you are able. For this photoshoot, in particular, I chose to shoot during sunrise and beat the crowds (a lesson learned in Part 04: Location).

Woah! Up close and personal.

Hold the phone...


If you are unable to shoot during the prime time of a golden hour and are stuck to the confined harshness of mid-day light, there’s still a glimmer of hope. Try photographing your subject under the shady parts of your location. The shade will provide a smooth surface of light to compliment the skin tones of your person. If no shade is available, then work with what you’ve got and gone directly into the sunlight, you’d be surprised with what the phone is capable of.

Say whaaaa-?

Shot on the Moment Wide.


Another beautiful component of natural light is the evenness that comes with overcast weather. Overcast is a fantastic way to mask the imperfections of your scene with the light provided by cloudy skies. Always embrace what might seem like a rotten weather pattern, as it can turn something ordinary into something extraordinary.

Up against a Girl Scouts sign.

Light On The Horizon

Add a natural glow to your image when the sun is setting or rising over the horizon line; place objects, like trees or humans, in front of the sun and force the light to weave from the background into the foreground. While this will create additional depth of field in your image, it will also add a pop of brightness that only the golden hour can provide.

Drinking a Topo Chico.

Style is on point.

Read 01, 02, 03, 04.

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