Senior Portraits: Lighting Techniques, with James Schmelzer

In this course, James shares his best techniques and hottest tricks that have made his style of photography an incredible success!

James has been photographing high school portraits for over 30 years. In this course, James shares his best techniques and hottest tricks that have made his style of photography an incredible success!

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Course Lessons:

Lesson 1: Introduction (Duration 01:47)

Quality portraits are all about quality lighting

Lesson 2: Diffusion versus Softness (Duration 03:00)

What is the correct placement for your studio light in relation to the subject?

Lesson 3: Working with an Umbrella (Duration 04:29)

Using an umbrella to increase the size of your light source

Lesson 4: The Soft Box (Duration 05:46)

Determining the correct distance to place your softbox away from the subject

Lesson 5: Positioning the Soft Box (Duration 06:13)

Joe talks positioning the soft box around the subject

Lesson 6: Reflectors (Duration 02:46)

Using a reflector to fill the light around your subject

Lesson 7: Light Positions (Duration 19:25)

Going over some of the different light patterns typically used with portrait photography

Lesson 8: Conclusion (Duration 01:04)

Learn the rudimentary theories of lighting and have fun and success shooting senior portraits

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…


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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