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How to Take Awesome Night Portraits: 3 Photo Ideas in 3 Minutes


You don’t need fancy lighting equipment to capture nighttime portraits. Follow these few simple tips from photographer Jordan Matter and you’ll up your night portrait game instantly, no flash required.

Matter and Shutterbug put together this quick night portrait tutorial to show photographers that you don’t need lots of gear to capture portraits on the street at night. A little creativity and either a streetlight or a bright window display is plenty.

In 3 minutes, Matter shares three different portrait ideas.

1. Have your subject look UP at a streetlight

Shooting a portrait under a streetlight is usually a disaster. If your subject is looking at you, the light is shining from above resulting in a dark face/bright nose portrait. Simple solution: have your model look up at the streetlight.

2. Stand in front of a huge window display

Matter says a big bright window display is “like a $5,000 setup, a huge softbox in the middle of the street” that you don’t have to pay a dime to use. So put your back against this window display and shoot your model head-on for a beautiful bright portrait. Or…

3. Stand next to a huge window display

Move off to the side and create a Rembrandt lighting setup by having your model look at you, or have them look at the display itself. That big soft ‘lightbox’ will wrap around them and give you a pleasing portrait without having to crank the ISO way up.

That’s it! Three night portrait ideas in three minutes. Check out the video up top to watch Matter in action, visit his website to browse his awesome Dancers Among Us photographs, and then check out the Shutterbug YouTube channel for more videos like this.

(via ISO 1200)