When properly lit, a subject can stand out - and look great - against a black background.
For the two portraits above, I positioned the subjects in the doorways of their dark huts. In each situation, a reflector was used to bounce light onto the subject's face. You can easily try this technique at home – as long as the room behind the door is very, very dark.
Reflector info:Westcott 1032 6-in-1 Reflector Kit 42in.
For the top right photograph of the woman, I positioned her in the doorway of her hut. No reflector was used. For the top left picture of the man, I used the Westcott lighting set-up illustrated below.
Lighting Kit Info:Westcott 4823 Spiderlite TD5 Large Light Kit
Below is another example that shows the effectiveness of using a black/dark background, as well as the set up that I used.
Below are two more pictures that illustrate the effectiveness of using a black background. The photograph on the left was taken by Judith Monteferrante. The photograph on the right was taken by Jack Reznicki. Thank you guys for taking these nice portraits!
Okay! I guess I need to write a post about the effectiveness of using a white background :-)
Explore the light,
P.S. For more lighting tips, see my Light It! apps for the iPhone and iPad.