Student’s 3:1 Lighting Ratio Headshots

I love teaching at the School of Photography run by my good friend Dennis Fahringer. I think it is the best school of photography I have come across. Here is a link to learn more about the school.


I love to teach lighting. One of the setups I love to teach is one I learned first from my Uncle Knolan Benfield.

He is the one that taught me what a 3:1 Light Ratio setup looks like and why should know how to shoot it.

Photos by Jedidiah Pearson

These are some of the shots that the students produced last week during my time teaching at the School of Photography in Kona, Hawaii.

Photos by Sarah Klinke

You see the problem with too contrasty of lighting is when it is reproduced in something like a newspaper the shadows go black. The 3:1 ratio produces a good shadow on newspaper print and yet still has some modeling on the face.

Here is a blog post that goes step by step on how to shoot it.

Photo by Wyatt Reed Alderman

I wanted you to see how students who have never done lighting before my time with them were able to not just master it, but get great expressions as well of their subjects.

Photos by Tess Williams

What they learned is once you have a good solid lighting setup it can free you to then work on expressions and posing.

Photos by John Davidson

The also were challenged to write a little story on their subjects. John Davidson wrote this about his subject.

Stan was a farmer who raised potatoes, alfalfa, wheat, and grew marijuana. Unfortunately he also smoked the marijuana and used many harder drugs. His life was a mess and he almost killed himself. He went to a Drug & Treatment Center and got clean. He retired after working 27 years at Idaho National Laboratory as a nuclear reactor Operator/Instructor.

The idea is that when you share a photo having a story with the photo makes it so much more interesting and people come back to look for more.

Photos by Gabe Hein

What do you think of these students photos they made of people?