Painterly Portraits and Lighting Lessons with Urs Recher

In this informative special edition live photography workshop, Karl is joined by broncolor’s Urs Recher and together they explain and demonstrate key lighting principles for effective portrait photography.

In the first half of the show Urs goes into detail about the science and theory of lighting, explaining concepts such as the inverse square law, the angle of incidence and the effects of various modifiers. He also demonstrates how to get the very best results from softboxes. Karl then proceeds to explain and demonstrate the effect of a number of more specialist modifiers before putting them to use to create a moody portrait image. Using precise control, he shows, step-by-step, how to balance multiple lights and how to use pockets of light for a striking final result.

This information packed show is a must-watch for anyone wanting to better understand the theory of light and see just how it can elevate your photography.

In this live photography workshop we cover the following:

  • The theory of light
  • The interaction between skin and light
  • Hard vs soft light
  • Lighting modifiers and their effects
  • Softboxes – How to use them for different effects
  • Inverse square law
  • The angle of incidence and its effect
  • How matte and gloss surfaces react to light
  • Photographing using multiple lights
  • How to photograph people with glasses
  • Combining modeling lights and flash

More information on some of the reflectors used in this workshop can be found in our blog articles ‘Softboxes’ and ‘The Magic of Parabolic Lighting’. Our Portrait section also covers more of the theory of light and how we can control light.


  1. hey karl
    urs said that even if u use the strip softbox wont give u the same result bec of the angle of it
    am just confused about 180 degree angle that urs was talking about

    1. Hi Amr, what Urs was explaining is that as with all softboxes that have an homogenous illuminated surface is that the light will escape from the front in a 180 angle. Using a thin strip box on the model to create the same catchlight in the eye would not give the same lighting result on the face as this set up because in this set up from the models position it looks like a thinner strip box because of the angle it is being viewed, however the exposure levels hitting the face are very different because one side of the softbox is close to one side of the face but the other end of the softbox is far away meaning that the light is much less powerful from that end. This means we have a more gradual fall off in exposure on the models face, which you would not have if you used a thinner strip box facing directly at the model.

  2. Urs is really brilliant. In this one video I created a loooong list of learnings. You guys are a great bringing up any point the other forgot to mention. Great video lesson.

  3. derrick_connell

    Wow – this is another outstanding module.

    I would highly recommend this as one of the essential modules in the lighting theory section. I stumbled over it when I was looking for information on the modifiers for the creative portrait 2.0 show and it answered a bunch of questions for me.

    It is packed with very useful information on the various modifiers – and many of these techniques would solve a bunch of little problems I’ve had, and those little problems always annoy me as the shots are never quite good enough.

    Awesome stuff.

  4. Hi Karl, does the model light go off when the Broncolor flash flashes, or does the model light glow when it flashes?

    1. Hi, they stay on, sometimes they dim a little as do other brands. They never really go off even if you think they do simply because the flash part is so fast they don’t have time to dim down enough to make any difference. Although you can turn them off altogether if you want to once you have your lights set up. Generally speaking using them the modelling lamps on low power they won’t cause any light pollution into your main shot unless you’ve set your shutter speed very low and aperture very wide.

  5. Thank you so much, Karl!
    I am so happy about all the possibilities to watch and to lern here in “karltayloreducation”
    I can`t afford all this wonderful stuff from broncolor ( I am a beginner therefore it is not necessary anyway) , but I am so happy to watch it ( the broncolor paras in the background, magnificent!) -, to observe how to use it and to enjoy your playful education ( like a boy – or in this case two boys – in the playground 🙂 or even more appropriate for light: in a billardroom).
    The most important gift for me: finding inspiration by someone who adore playing with light!

    1. Thank you Elke, also many of the techniques we show can be applied to other types of lights or less expensive accessories. In other classes you will see how that can be done, even with speedlites.

  6. Both of your passion for lighting is infectious and a joy to behold. This video is the ultimate lighting offering in your catalog, IMHO. It’s a balanced mix of practical, theory, and commentary. I’ve learned so much from you two, and I’m eternally grateful. Thank you.

  7. This video is hidden gem of lighting video. Excellent work, learn so many new basics of light and how it works. Thank you Karl , Urs and team.

  8. DougHowell

    I’ve watched this episode a lot and I learn something new each time.

    Karl Taylor and team I have a question, Karl said something about certificates or achievements, is there something in the works?

    1. Hi Doug, yes that is now available on our sign up page you will see the new mentor and certification plan.

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