Getting Professional Quality Photos From a Compact With Good Lighting


You don't need to have a big, professional DSLR to get wonderfully publishable shots: you just need great lighting! A photographer with extensive knowledge of lighting can capture great images with anything you can throw at them. Here are a couple of tips on how you can too!  


Pro Shots With a Compact Camera

 It doesn’t get much simpler or easier than this: a constant-light main light (right), a reflector (left) and a collapsible background. For the portraits on this page, the light positioned above and to camera left is turned off.

This type of simple set-up can help produce some beautiful portraits. The top photograph shows the effect of using the main light and the reflector. As you can see, the reflector bounced some of the light from the main light onto the opposite side of the model’s face. It’s an okay shot, one that shows the distinctive features of the model.

The bottom shot, however, is my favorite from the session. It shows the effect of using only the main light (the reflector was moved out of position). I like the way the deep shadow on the model’s face adds a sense of drama to the image. I also like the way the model is making direct eye contact with my lens.

I took all these shots with my trusty Canon G10.

Envision the End Result

Photography is a two-stage process (after you have the idea for a photograph): image capture and image processing. With digital imaging, image processing has become more accessible and more important. It has also become easier to create the image you see in your mind’s eye.


The more you know about digital darkroom enhancements, the better off you’ll be at envisioning the end result. When I took this picture in Venice, Italy, I thought about possible enhancements in Photoshop. These eventually included cropping the image, and then selectively increasing the saturation, contrast, detail and sharpness.


Only one light – a Canon 580 Speedlite in a Westcott soft box – was used to illuminate the subject.


Want to learn more about lighting? Check out Rick's books and apps on