Miguel Quiles Goes Behind the Scenes To Show His “Dramatic Portrait” Setup [RF Video of the Week]

Lately I’ve been developing what I call my “Dramatic Portrait” style, adding dimension and character to the subject, beyond what could be achieved through a more conventional studio lighting setup and post-processing.

In my last video for Rangefinder, I showed you how I use ND filters in studio to create these types of portraits, and as a follow-up to that, I created this latest video with a female subject to show you my approach.


One very important step in achieving this look is to coach your subject. Because of the shallow depth-of-field, you want to avoid having them smile, as their teeth will be out of focus and end up being a distraction to the viewer. In this shoot I gave the model a range of expressions that I wanted her to interpret (i.e. thoughtful, intense, whimsical) to put her in the right frame of mind when giving different looks from one snap to the next—check out the results below.

I tried to keep the entire setup very simple, but feel free to try this on your own and add additional lights and reflectors to create your own “Dramatic Portrait” style—just make sure that the focus of the image is on the model/subject, and that you’re sure to create portraits that will stand out from the crowd.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to comment on the video, and be sure to read my other articles for more lighting and photography tips!


All photos © Miguel Quiles Photography


Check out more RF Videos of the Week, and email Libby Peterson with submissions.

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Miguel Quiles

Miguel Quiles

Miguel Quiles is a New Jersey-based commercial wedding and portrait photographer who's been involved in the industry for over 15 years, starting off first as a salesman at a local camera store. Since then, Miguel has been refining his skills and pushing the limits of his creative abilities. As a self-taught photographer, Miguel hopes to share his experience and knowledge with new and upcoming photographers who wish to take their work to the next level.

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