As a photographer our job is to see light as the camera see’s light. Naturally our eyes are superior to the camera sensor or even film. So with that in mind, there are three properties of light you need to think about when lighting anything;
Source – will it be the sun, strobe or reflectors?
Direction – where is my light coming from – normally above like the sun, but it could be coming from the side like light coming in from a window.
Color – is my light warm like that golden light you get just before the sun goes down in the evening or is it cool (bluish) like you get in the middle of the day or in open shade? Most DSLR’s allow you to select the K (Kelvin temperature) for your images, I personally keep mine set at 6500 degrees Kelvin for warmer skin tones. After all most every model wants to look like they have a tan!
So once you’ve decided your source of light, you now need to decide upon ‘specular’ (hard light) or diffused (soft light) for your subject. Specular light is usually not very flattering to models as it tends to show every imperfection in the skin such as wrinkles, etc. So most of the time the preference is diffused light – which we can do with a soft box of placing some kind of diffusion material between the light source and the model and remember the larger the light source the softer the light.