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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. I really appreciate your hustle. That was a great way to illustrate modifiers. You covered a tremendous amount of information in a short time.

  9. Thank you very much for this tutorial ! It covers so many aspects of lighting…

    Karl & Urs … the perfect couple !

  10. Urs did a fabulous job explaining the difference in the reflections in the eyes based on the size and intensity of the light.

  11. Hey Stephen. I’m watching this on an iPad Mini 3rd generation and I’m not having any problems at all. Must be a problem with the iPad Pro.

  12. You guys really inspire me to to try more and more stuff, you really excite my creativity. Thanks. Urs I really get you and how you think about creativity and seeing images you think very much like me. I have always said that you can’t see an image if you don’t look. But I do find it very difficult to turn off from looking for images, intact I probably can’t. Thank you both for your brilliant tutorials.

  13. Thanks guys, there is so much to take on board. The balance between the creative idea and technological execution is so well addressed. Gemma and the rest of the team did a great job too!

  14. Yes Riccardo this has happened to me also although it is usually rectified when I go back and restart the video. Must be an iPad Pro issue.

  15. Hey folks I’m watching this on watch again and it is playing and jumping back a few seconds is anyone else experiencing this or just me . I generally watch on an iPad Pro.
    Great video by the way.

    1. Hi Stephen, I’m experiencing the same problem with iPad Pro. Moreover, sometimes, the video frame becomes completely black or the image freeze although the audio is still going on.
      Today, instead, no way to watch these videos, since the message

  16. Sadly I missed the live show but have now caught up. It had been said before that you and Urs work so well together picking up the other’s narrative and supporting one another. The flow of knowledge from technical to creative is non stop. Much more please from the pair of you.
    Are you booked or plan to do any live appearances in 2018 because watching you and the team live on a stage is awesome. Cheers.

  17. a lot of information to take in ,
    thanks I have to watch many time, to take notes
    really enjoy it thank again
    Karl &Urs great show
    frank garvan

  18. I wish I’ve seen this before my last shooting 🙂 Very good explanations! Thank you for all for this Live Show.

  19. Thanks Karl and Urs for the explanations about the modifiers and its effect in the shoot
    which I think a big education for the photographers specially doing indoor photography
    I will definitely expect more shows like this in future
    Thanks again

  20. This is brilliant! I learned some new stuff in a practical way, with some engineering/technical clarification that doesn’t blow the mind. Loved the clarification of how Matt and glossy surfaces are affected by size of light and quantity of light. Also love the clarification about how hard light gives more saturated colours than soft light. It explains why people refer to “silky smooth” and “creamy” with soft light. It’s quite literally more milky.

  21. Cracking show guys!! Probably my favourite so far, so informative and at a good pase, you both work well together.
    Look forward to the new releases.

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