Outdoor Lighting for Senior Portraits By James Schmelzer

45 min
Difficulty Difficulty Difficulty

Professional photographer James Schmelzer has made a career shooting of high school senior portraits. In this course, James demonstrates some of the techniques he has learned for controlling and shaping light while shooting outdoors and using natural light.

Video transcripts available with a subscription.

Using a reflector to bounce the sunlight back into a shaded area to better control the exposure
Sometimes it is easier to use a large structure at your location to block light instead of trying to set up something yourself
Using a black gobo to create more contrast and shading on your subject
Using the bright sun as the main light and softening it with a diffuser
On location at the railroad tracks for a cool, urban look
Learn to use the north side of the buildings as backdrop
Taking evening photos using a simple flashlight and umbrella as a light source
In this segment, James experiments with different outfits in an environmental setting
Shooting low to capture the neon signs and lights in the background
Using a full length reflector and composing the urban background
Going through a variety of setups during a sunny day shoot at the park
Making an outdoor portrait fast and easy
Going out later in the day for softer light. Learn some poses, setups and lighting tips
Profile photo of James Schmelzer

Meet your instructor

James Schmelzer


James Schmelzer is an award winning photographer, lecturer, and has been the technical representative for F.J. Westcott Company for over 25 years. James has been actively involved in designing new light modifier products as well as creating instructional videos demonstrating control of light. He conducts workshops, speaks at seminars, and...

James's Courses


Join the Discussion
  1. Profile photo of kevin_runge@hotmail.com kevin_runge@hotmail.com

    This has been one of my favorite courses on kelbyone in my two years of membership. Thank you!

  2. Profile photo of krimcg krimcg

    Great course. Very understandable, and the content is ready to be put into practice. I really appreciate his tips on using the full-length reflector, the night flashlight, so many good ideas. Is there another name for the “expo meter?” I have tried an internet search without results. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  3. Profile photo of sonophotos3 sonophotos3


  4. Profile photo of DrillerAA DrillerAA

    Very good course. I will be watching this one over and over. I like the simple strategies and simple techniques that result is very nice portraits. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  5. Profile photo of Richard Jacobs Richard Jacobs

    Outstanding! Easy explanation, yet complete with detail in a relaxed way of presenting. Would appreciate seeing more from this master photographer.

    Jake Jacobs —- Yes, please post my feedback

  6. Profile photo of ricpix ricpix

    By far James Schmelzer is one of the best photo instructor on KelbyTraining.com.

    I’ve learned so much.

    Thanks a lot. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  7. Profile photo of ladonna smith ladonna smith

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Excellent instructor. Very detailed and experienced with posing and lighting. Cool. calm, collective. Easy to understand. I believe I saw him in person at USA Imaging 2012 in New Orleans, LA.

    —- Yes, please post my feedback

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