Here, the subject is turned slightly toward the source, creating a small shadow just to the right of the subject’s nose, forming a small “loop” shape. The source is an 18″ beauty dish approximately three-feet from the subject.As you see, it’s the identical lighting set-up as the section below this one, “beauty dish: butterfly lighting.” The subject has simply turned toward the light source. Key to a loop lighting set-up is that the source be slightly off-center, and slightly higher than the subject’s eyeline. Loop lighting is often cited as a pleasing “standard” portrait set-up, likely because it mimics a daylight source from a similar position, creating a more natural-looking nose-shadow (i.e., something we’re used to seeing in normal life).


Note that loop lighting may be achieved using any type of modifier (e.g., a 3′ octa), as long as it’s a hard-enough source to create a shadow. If your subject appears too flat, you can simply move your source further away from your subject (which makes the source more like a point-source) to increase the definition of the nose-shadow. Again, the key to loop lighting is to simply place your source slightly off-center, with the center of the source about two feet above your subject’s eyeline.