How to Shoot Magical Portraits with Candlelight (VIDEO)

If you're interested in shooting alluring portraits photos without flash or complicated lighting setups, today is your lucky day. That's because this tutorial from the Alex Q YouTube channel demonstrates a unique technique that illuminates the scene with nothing more than candles and two mirrors.

Instructor Alex Quijano is an accomplished portrait artist who describes his popular channel as a meeting place for 1.5K subscribers "where the passion of photography meets beautiful women." This fun behind-the-scenes-episode results in several dynamic portraits thanks to the time element provided by the burning candles.

Quijano's setup is about as simple as can be, with a beautiful model, 50 candles, and two good-sized mirrors. Of course, you can simplify things further with fewer candles and a single mirror. You may also want to experiment with this unique form of illumination for shooting table-top photos and indoor macro subjects.

There are two reasons for the mirrors. First they "multiply" the number of candles you use and, secondly, "they allow us to shoot in all directions." Thus, even if a hand-full of candles is all you have, the ultimate appearance will be doubled or tripled. Before Quijano starts shooting he illustrates why and how he set up the scene before the model arrives and the lights are turned off.
Quijano says "this setup my not look like much but wait until you see the images" and we link you'll definitely be impressed. There's one important consideration before trying this approach yourself, which is the importance of using dripless candles for a clean effect.

While watching the video you'll pick up valuable tips on composition when shooting from a variety of angles, along with several poses that work really well. Quijano also reveals the camera settings and simple gear he chose for the session.

Quijano also explains why he uses a fast lens: "I don’t care too much about background details, and this way we can completely focus on our model or her image in one of the mirrors." There are multiple benefits with this particular technique: It's easy to emulate for photographers of all skill levels, exposure calculations are simple, and above all, the spectacular images you make will definitely stand out from the crowd.

Be sure to check out Quijano's instructional YouTube channel, especially if you want to learn more about pursuing the art of portrait photography.

On a related note, don't miss the tutorial we featured from another professional photographer with a unique niche, in which she demonstrates a simple home setup for shooting sensuous boudoir photographs in the living room.