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

4 Courses


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...


Join the Discussion
  1. Profile photo of Doc Chevalier Doc Chevalier

    Incredible! Although I’ve been exposed to lighting theory for years, James’ class is the clearest and most effective medium I’ve encountered to learn the rudiments of lighting. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  2. Profile photo of Octavio Ortega Octavio Ortega

    wow thank you james you are great!

  3. Profile photo of 77faces 77faces

    Fantastic – Thank you so much
    One of the best lighting demonstrations i have seen.
    So appreciated.
    Where do i get the barn doors you are using in this video?
    Yes, you can use my feedback!

    —- Yes, please post my feedback

  4. Profile photo of capsix capsix

    Brilliant.thanks guys. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  5. Profile photo of gordonmarkmartin gordonmarkmartin

    This is by far the best explained and demonstrated lighting course on Kelbytraining.com bar none —- Yes, please post my feedback

  6. Profile photo of NovumLucis NovumLucis

    All I can say is, WOW!!! After watching numerous videos on lighting techniques from other photographers, I always felt like something was missing; and there was. In this single class, James Schmezler managed to provide that missing link by the use of exaturated lighting examples and concise clear explanations that are visually tangible. I also really like the instructional technique of showing the build up of each light until the final image is achieved. Many photographers providing instructional training could learn a great deal from James’ approach. I would REALLY enjoy watching more videos from Mr Schmelzer, as I feel his 30+ years of experience need to be passed on. Thank you James! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  7. Profile photo of ratherbsouth ratherbsouth

    WOW!! The absolute best explanation of lighting patterns and how to accomplish them that I’ve ever seen!! Thank you for taking the time to slow down and really show the clear details! Really love the use of barn doors to fine tune and sculpt the light! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  8. Profile photo of rccougar2 rccougar2

    Very helpful, easy to understand the concepts! Would like to see more from this instructor. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  9. Profile photo of PFryPhotos PFryPhotos

    Very informative. I am marking this as one of my favorites so I can review over and over again until I totally understand how to light my subject. Lighting my subject in a studio has been one of the hardest things for me to comprehend. There are lots of good instructors on Kelby Training. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  10. Profile photo of mheerschap mheerschap

    Mr. James Schmelzer is absolute and concise in his explanation of lighting. One of the best teachers at Kelby Training. I hope you do more training videos featuring Mr. Schmelzer. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  11. Profile photo of milchuk milchuk

    VERY good instructor!!! It is so easy to understand. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  12. Profile photo of Jon Hunter Jon Hunter

    I found the video very informative and I learnt a lot. The instruction was clear and didn’t assume the viewer knew anything about lighting.

    My only criticism has nothing to do with the instruction but the annoying background music. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  13. Profile photo of donboys donboys

    Learned a lot that I have not seen in other lighting videos. Making the ear darker is one example. My own shooting is limited to small flash; essentially I have the number of lights but not the continuous lighting so that I can see the effect before I take the test shot. Still the videos go a long way to tell me how I can evaluate the test shots, and then alter the light positions. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  14. Profile photo of greenlife greenlife

    Very nice, love the teacher. Learned a lot, but the newer Constant Lighting is ever better, so watch that too! And do not miss this either. —- Yes, please post my feedback