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candle light portrait photography

Written by 6:53 am Photography

10 Tips for Effective Candle Light Portrait Photography

What is Candle light Portrait Photography? You may use some of the softest light while taking pictures at nighttime by candlelight. Making use of this light can result in some stunning images. Whether it’s out of need or for artistic reasons 

In this article, we will learn what candlelight portrait photography really is. Continue reading this article to learn about the 10 tips for effective candle photography.

Table of content

What is Candle Light Portrait Photography
10 Tips for Candle Light Portrait Photography
Safety Precautions to Take

What is Candle Light Portrait Photography?

What you might expect it to be—photos taken by candlelight—is candlelight photos which is called candlelight photography. As they effectively portray emotion, these pictures are well-known. You may create a spooky or serious scene just as readily as one that is beautiful or dreamlike. Your goal for the shot will determine everything. 

Portrait photography and candlelight are frequently used interchangeably. In this setting, portraits turn out good because the soft, warm light flatters the subject’s face. Additionally, we are accustomed to seeing stunning classical paintings created in this kind of lighting. To get the same atmosphere as those images, use the same ambient light. 

10 Tips for Candle Light Portrait Photography 

These are some candle photoshoot tips for you that will help you capture some awesome candlelight images: 

1. Technical Considerations 

Let’s start with the technical aspects. To get the least amount of camera shaking possible, you should first set your camera on a tripod. Of course, taking pictures in low light is a struggle compared to taking pictures in candlelight. It implies that you will have to compromise between three camera settings: 

  • IOS  
  • Shutter speed 
  • Aperture 

If you want to snap crisp portraits, you need to set your ISO rather high because the shot will be taken in extremely low light. This modification will enable a quicker shutter speed. Additionally, your aperture will come under a choice for style. 

Adjust White Balance for Warm, Low-light 

What your camera does with its white balance is an important thing to keep in mind. The camera will most likely have this setting set to Auto, which means it will evaluate the light temperature. This evaluation may be more detrimental than beneficial. In candlelight photography, you want to preserve the flames’ cozy, orange warmth. Therefore, in the white balance settings, switch your camera to the low light preset. If your camera has a custom entry, enter a value of between 2000 and 3000K. 

2. Use a Wide Aperture and a Long Lense

Select a lens that will help you in order to supply enough light for your shot. You will have more light if your lens can capture images at a wider aperture (lower numerical aperture). Slower shutter speeds are possible with more light. This little fix can significantly alter the situation. 

When photographing a subject at night using candles, you capture them when they fall into a little area of light. In this environment, long lenses are far more welcome than broad lenses. Professionals would advise using a lens longer than 50mm while taking photos. Most use their 50mm prime lens, which has an f/1.2 aperture. This will help you utilize an incredible depth of field with this aperture to go along with the gentle lighting. 

3. Check Framing and Background Before Shooting

It’s simple to overlook the areas of the frame that aren’t illuminated by the candle when photographing in low light. There may be instances when you complete a shoot, submit the images, and then discover an issue. An unfavorable perspective or an unnatural-looking item that just slightly catches the light might cause this issue. We advise you to examine the frame thoroughly before you begin taking photos in order to prevent this. This extra step can save a great deal of future disappointment. 

4. Use More Candles to Add Background Light

I hope you have extra candles on hand in case one goes out. However, it is not the primary cause of additional candles. You must take lighting into account if you wish to include a backdrop scene in your photograph. Be mindful of the sort of light entering the scene if you want to employ any external lighting. You might have generated a pleasant candlelight glow, but this light might be a different hue and destroy it. Extra candles can be lit to illuminate the surrounding area. If the flames create unwelcome highlights, consider hiding the candles. To somewhat illuminate the space, place a candle outside the frame. 

5. Use Reflectors to Add Light to the Scene

As we’ve already indicated, taking pictures by candlelight involves negotiating with the light. The more controlled light you can add to your scenario, the better. A fantastic technique to let this light in is using reflectors. The subject could disappear into the shadows when taking a shot in low light. When the light source originates from a single location, this is easy to discern. Reflectors are able to reflect the light back onto the target. In low light, this additional light helps to clarify their form. Try to locate whatever white surface you can if you don’t have a reflector. White walls will naturally reflect light in a room. You can even use a bedsheet if you’re on a tight budget. 

6. Meter Light Based on the Subject

Make sure to base your calculations on the subject itself when measuring the light. Light meters and built-in light meters may find it simple to read the light in a variety of ways. Due to the light meter latching onto the flame’s highlight, the reading may be overly dark. The inverse can also occur. Due to the light meter accounting for the dark background, the value may be too bright. 

Best Way to Meter Light

Getting the subject into position initially is the best approach to meter in this circumstance. Using trial and error is an option if you’re using a DSLR. Both the shutter speed and the white balance may be used to achieve this. Check the many settings required for the key components of the image while shooting on film. Take separate readings for the light on the face and the details in the shadows, for instance, if it’s a portrait. 

7. Other Light Sources

Candles on their own don’t always produce enough light. If this is the case and the aforementioned methods still leave you with insufficient light, think about adding a small amount from another source. You might, for instance, use a lamp or a light that has been dimmed. Use some red or orange cloth to drape over your additional light for optimal results; just be wary of the heat. 

8. Using a Flash with a Coloured Gel

Instead of a harsh flash blowing out the photograph, turning off your flash will let you capture the soft light of the candles. The only exception we have observed is when a heated (red or orange) gel is applied to your flash. This gives the flash a warm glow and lessens its effect. If you have control over it, you might also wish to manually reduce the flash’s output. To achieve the ideal hue, experiment with several color gels. 

9. Move Your Subject Around for Best Conditions

How you position the subject will affect how you take candlelight images. There is a clear illustration of how close your stuff is to the light source, of course. But you also need to be conscious of how your subject is positioned in relation to the light source. Candlelight flickers. The distinct features of candlelight in images are enhanced by these flickers. The flicker will appear as a softly-edged light. Because of the light’s erratic behavior, not all of the subject’s shadows can be seen. Therefore, be sure to move your model or item about while observing the shadows. They can be in a posture that enhances or benefits from the soft lighting. 

10. Watch Out for Fire Hazards

We hope we don’t have to say this but keep an eye out for any potential fire dangers on your set. We want to draw attention to this because, when directing a shoot, sometimes obvious details might slip away. The candles may be the last thing on your mind because there will be so many other things to consider.  

Safety Precautions to Take 

Be careful to wait to ignite the candles until you are prepared to begin reading the meters. If there is a model or clothing change, it will also be a good idea to extinguish the candles in between shots. Most essential, be sure there is no flammable material next to the flame. That goes for sheets, reflectors, and anything else for that matter. Things might quickly deteriorate with only a minor bump, so exercise caution! 


By this point, you should be well aware of what to watch out for while doing photography with candles. The best part of taking pictures by candlelight is experimenting with different settings, such as shutter speed and subject positioning. Your topic may be dimly visible and emerging from the shadows. Alternately, you may have the shadows almost completely exposed, allowing the spectator a glimpse into the shadows. Get your tripod and start shooting after keeping a pail of water close by. 

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