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Tip: Use a Mannequin Head to Practice Portrait Lighting Without a Model

Want to learn portrait lighting but don’t have a model you can spend hours and hours with? Here’s a 4-minute video in which photographer Ed Verosky offers a simple suggestion: Buy a cheap mannequin head to practice your skills.

Using a real model to fine-tune your skills can be uncomfortable and boring for the subject. By using a mannequin, you’ll have a simple test subject that won’t mind getting blasted by studio lights all day.

You don’t even need a full-body mannequin. A Styrofoam mannequin head is cheap and can serve you well. Just stick it on a spike in your studio and you’re good to go.

You can practice all sorts of lighting, whether that be butterfly light:

Or even contrasty split lighting:

Verosky even tries out a few variations of the Rembrandt pattern:

A simple Styrofoam mannequin head like this should set you back about $5, according to Verosky. Check out the full video above to see it in action. You can also find more of his videos on his YouTube channel.

(via Ed Verosky via ISO 1200)

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