Why not create interesting patterns of light
and shade across your subject? All you need is an object with gaps or holes to let the light in. These types of light blockers are called 'gobos' in English (short for go-betweens). You'll probably be able to find lots of items around the house that could work. Loosely woven blankets, radiator covers, slatted window blinds, colanders or even tree branches or metal garden tables outside could all work. Here, we've used a template with a circular mandala pattern. Of course, you could also create your own
custom gobos with a sheet of card and a craft knife.
The key to creating well-defined shadows with your gobo is to use a hard-edged light source. Direct sunlight is ideal, but you could also use a torch, a bare bulb or a Speedlite
. The smaller the light source, the harder and clearer the shadows will be. Bring the gobo in as close to the face as possible, and if you're using artificial light move the source far away and turn off all other lights. The great thing about abstract portraits is that you don't necessarily need pro-level kit to capture quality shots. A beginner-friendly DSLR such as the Canon EOS 850D
with kit lens or portrait lens
would be ideal. As for camera settings, use Aperture priority (Av) mode and try adding a stop or two of negative exposure compensation
so that the shadows come out nice and deep.