Lighting Techniques

Lighting Chameleons: Austin Hargrave on Creating Versatile Portraits with Minimal Adjustments

September 15, 2016

By David Walker


Working in a 10 x 10-foot tent at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, Austin Hargrave used one key light with three different backdrops to get three distinct set-ups for each subject. The light stayed put as subjects spun to face different directions and Hargrave moved the camera to record portraits with very different lighting—a backlit silhouette effect (DJ Khaled), a classical portrait (Rachel Platten) and a warm glow on a split backdrop (Keke Palmer).

Celebrity photographer Austin Hargrave prefers a classical portraiture lighting style that either uses or mimics natural window light. But subjects, locations and other variables of his assignments are unpredictable, so Hargrave is always prepared to fall back on his ability to light in a variety of different styles. “I would say I’m a lighting chameleon,” he says. “Sometimes you have...

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