How to Loop Light, EASY



  • Loop lighting creates a “loop” shaped shadow beside and slightly under one side of the nose.
  • Loop lighting is generally flattering to most faces.
  • Loop lighting broadens one side of the face, while adding depth the shadowed half.
  • Loop lighting is EASY to create with just one light source ( labeled key light here) however you can also use a fill light to soften shadows when desired.


Loop lighting is a good place to start when learning to light faces. It’s generally flattering, can be created with one light source and applied indoors or out. You’ll notice more shadowing than with Butterfly lighting, but less shadows than with Rembrandt lighting.  Remember shadows add dimension, which is essential for a well lit portrait. However, shadows can also define facial features the subject may want to downplay..  It’s up to you, the photographer, to decide which lighting technique will be most flattering for your subject.



Goal: Light falling from slightly higher than eye level to create a rounded shadow beneath one side of nose.

KEY light: Key light is your main light and should be about 45 degrees more or less from your model. Once set at 45 degrees and slightly higher than eye level, take a test shot and then play around with your angle to get the most flattering direction while still maintaining the “loop” shadow.

FILL light (optional): Fill light is optional, but I used an existing window here (as opposed to covering) in order to soften shadows created by the key light. See set up diagram below for exact placement.

Have a family session outdoors? Or perhaps photographing a wedding? Loop lighting can be used outdoors as well. There are several techniques but the one below is the easiest.