Photographer Uses Christmas Lights to Illuminate Magical Portraits

Christmas light portrait photography lighting tips

Canadian photographer Irene Rudnyk is known for her fascinating behind the scenes videos and tutorials, where she lets viewers in on the secrets of a professional photographer. And just in time for the holidays, one of her latest videos demonstrates how a simple string of Christmas lights can be used to light portraits to great effect.

After she and model Emily Brown taped some white Christmas lights to the ceiling, they had fun experimenting with the different effects the lights created. By posing her model next to a window, Rudnyk contrasted the natural and artificial light, playing with several different setups, from holding a few bulbs close to her lens to having Brown cup the lights in her hand.

The results are warm, wintery portraits that have a bit of magic and mystery. Rudnyk shot the images with Canon 5D Mark III DSLR and a Canon 85mm f/1.2L lens. By opening the aperture as wide as possible, she created a bokeh effect and blurred background that enhance the beautiful portraits. The simple photography lighting tip once again shows how it doesn't require expensive equipment or location to result in incredible photographs.

Photographer Irene Rudnyk used a simple strand of Christmas lights to create a wintery lighting effect in her portrait shoot.

Irene Rudnyk youtube photography

Christmas light portrait photography lighting tips

After taping white strands of light to the ceiling, Rudnky posed her model next to a window to enhance the shoot with natural light.

Christmas light portrait photography lighting tips

Christmas light portrait photography lighting tips

Christmas light portrait photography lighting tips

She experimented with several setups, holding a few bulbs close to her lens and having the model cup the lights in her hands.

Irene Rudnyk youtube photography

Irene Rudnyk photography youtube

Christmas light portrait photography lighting tips

As it got darker outside, she had the model immerse herself in the strands, bathing her in warm light.

Christmas light portrait photography lighting tips

Christmas lights photography

Watch the full video to see how the Christmas lights photo shoot came to life and see more tutorials on Rudnyk's popular YouTube channel.

Irene Rudnyk: YouTube | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Irene Rudnyk.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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