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 from the website PetaPixel offers a simple suggestion: Buy a cheap mannequin head to practice your skills. You can find new realistic and used mannequin heads at Mannequin Madness.com.
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.