What does the world of modern photography have to do with a Dutch painter from the 17th century?

Rembrandt Lighting. That’s what.

Rembrandt lighting is named after Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Yes, that Rembrandt.

Generally considered one of the greatest story tellers in the history of art, he was a draughtsman, painter and print maker whose work possessed an exceptional ability to render people in their various moods using the technique of light and shade.

A master in the use of light and shadow.


The Rembrandt lighting setup is characterised by one side of the subjects’ face being lit, with the other side in shadow. The shadow cast by the nose meets the shadow created on the cheek to form a triangle of light under in between. This play between light and shade is why Rembrandt lighting is used when you want to add drama to your image.
The Rembrandt Triangle


Today Rembrandt lighting is arguably the most common one light setup used by portrait photographers on a budget. Its dramatic results make it an easy technique to add to your creative catalogue.

Can you spot the 'Rembrandt Triangle'?


A reflector placed at a 45° angle on the opposite side of the flash can help to soften the shadows on the darker side of your subjects face for a more subtle effect.

Add a reflector on the other side to lift the shadows


Ready to up your portrait photography? Shop our range of flashlight modifiers and studio accessories. Still have questions? Why not come to a Photology workshop?