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How to Light Nighttime Portraits With Only a Phone Flashlight

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Sometimes, you’re forced to work with what you’ve got, even if that means just the flashlight on your phone. In this 10-minute video, you’ll learn 5 ways to light portraits using just a phone flashlight.

1. Use Darker Backgrounds

The light emitted from a phone flashlight is significantly weaker than video lights or a flash. This means you’ll need to place your subject against a darker background and bring the phone closer to the subject in order for the light to show up.

2. Utilize Existing Lights in the Scene

Locate lights that can be used as additional light sources to add in fill light, create a backlight, or provide a rim light for your subject.

3. Modify the Phone Light to Create Interesting Effects

Use various objects placed in front of the flashlight to transform the color, shape, and pattern of light. On the left we used a small copper pipe to create a spotlight effect and on the right we used a cologne bottle to create streaks of light.

4. Control the Phone Light with a DIY Snoot

In order to concentrate the flashlight, use a DIY snoot such as a piece of rolled up paper or a frosting tip. This will allow you to control light spill and get the most power output from the phone flashlight.

5. Create Multiple Light Sources by Compositing

This technique is quite handy for when you only have one light but want to create a shot that has multiple light sources. To create this image, we captured four separate images, then combined them on Photoshop and simply masked in the light where we wanted it to appear.


P.S. If you enjoyed this video and article, you can find more by subscribing to the SLR Lounge YouTube channel.


About the author: Pye Jirsa is a wedding photographer based in Southern California and the co-founder of SLR Lounge. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Jirsa’s work here.

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