Rim light can be critical in portraits

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/9, 1/200

My friend contacted me and wanted me to reshoot their son’s senior photo, but match the background. Here is one of the photos from the session. Below is the lighting diagram and settings for the photo.

The softbox on the right of the camera is -2 EV compared the the main light on the left. Depending on which way the subject faced I would alter the set up so the one he is facing was the main light and the other light was acting like a fill.

To make this photo work I believe the hair light behind the subject helped to rim light the subject just enough to separate him from the background. Without it the tux would have blended with the background and created a near merger.

My preference is a muted background which for me helps to separate the person from the background.  I just changed the background and added a light to the background.  Below is the lighting diagram for you.

Your goal should be that the background compliments the subject and doesn’t do anything to distract from the subject. You also want to be sure your subject doesn’t blend into the background. As with all rules there are times to break them.