A Guide to Portrait Photography, Step Ten: How to Shoot Two-Third, Three-Quarter, and Seventh-Eight Facial Portraits

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The two-third, three-quarter, and seventh-eight facial portraits require only the key light.

We have come a long way in our guide to portrait photography. We are rapidly approaching the point where you will know all the basics. Soon the only thing left for you to do will be practice what you have learned until it becomes second nature for you. In this part of the portrait photography guide, we are going to be looking at hose to pose your subject for shooting two-third, three-quarter, and seventh-eight facial portraits. We are still working with one-light set-ups. The only essential light will be the “Key Light.” As before other lights can be added to the one light set up if you feel that they are necessary to make the portrait that you are making really pop, but they aren’t essential to learning and using these posing techniques.

  • Before we get into the actual lighting set-up a few definition are in order.
  • The seventh-eight facial portraits is shot with the subject facing directly into the camera lens with the subject’s face turned just slightly to one side or the other. Seventh-eighths of the subject’s face is clearly visible to the cameras lens and evenly lit by the key light.
  • The three-quarters portrait is shot with the subject posed at a 45-degree angle to the cameras lens. In a three-quarter facial portrait the subject is posed so that the subject’s far ear just disappears from view.
  • The two-thirds facial portrait positions the subject at a 66-degree angle to the cameras lens, halfway between the ¾ and 2/3 facial portrait pose. Pretty self explanatory, right?

The Two-Thirds Lighting Setup


As you can see in this illustration, the subject turns his or her head slightly to the side, say between 10 and 15 degrees. The studio strobe is then position 45 degrees from that imaginary line.

The Three-Quarter Lighting Setup


In the three-quarter facial portrait, the subject’s turns his or her face at a 45-degree angle to the cameras lens. The key light is then positioned an additional 45 degrees from that imaginary line. The studio strobe is actually positioned perpendicular to the subject’s shoulder.

This is a good time for me to point out the biggest mistake that every new portrait photographer makes. The new portrait photographer positions his or her lights and then forgets about them as he or she adjusts the pose of his or her subject. This is a major error because you have to maintain the proper position of your key light or one lighting setup can quickly become another and the effect that you are after will be completely destroyed.

In the next installment of this tutorial on portrait photography, I will cover tow final lighting setups, low-key and high-key lighting. After that you will have learned all the basic lighting setups and all you will need to do is practice them until they all become second nature to you.

1 comment

carol roach
Posted on Oct 8, 2009