Learn Photo Editor Tutorials

How to Relight Your Portraits With AI

By Melanie Doncas | Photo Editor Tutorials

Portrait photography has long relied on perfect lighting to capture the essence of a subject. However, achieving the right lighting setup can be a challenge for photographers, especially when working with limited resources or in less-than-ideal conditions.

If you’ve ever wondered how to enhance light in a photo or how to relight your photo entirely, then you’re in luck. BeFunky's AI-powered Portrait Relight tool revolutionizes the way you can light up your portraits. This tool allows you to adjust the depth and placement of lighting to achieve the perfect illumination, add moody shadows or high-contrast lighting for a dramatic effect, or choose from preset lighting setups or tailor your own to match your creative vision.

Not only can you apply these effects directly, but you also have the option to fine-tune the settings to suit your specific needs. Keep reading, because we’ll show you how!

relight male photo after
relight photo before



How to Relight a Photo Online

Ready to spice up your portraits by enhancing their light? Head directly here and open the portrait you wish to edit.

Step 1: Select Your Desired Portrait Relight Effect

You'll find a variety of preset lighting effects within this tool, including studio lighting, noir lighting, neon lighting, and so much more. Simply select each one to sample how it looks on your own portrait.

For this tutorial, we’ll be using the Studio 3-Point effect.

studio effect relight

When you click on an effect, you also have three options: Settings, which allows you to alter the Portrait Relight effect further; Cancel, which cancels the selected effect; and Apply, which applies the effect as-is. You can also adjust the strength of the Portrait Relight effect using the slider.

Click Settings to proceed.

click relight settings

Step 2: Choose Your Portrait Background

By default, the studio presets use the original background of your image. If you want to use a preset studio background, uncheck the box next to "Original Background."

For more creative Portrait Relight effects, the provided preset background will be used by default. To switch back to your original background, simply select the box next to "Original Background" again.

add studio background

Step 3: Adjust Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting refers to any pre-existing light in a space, such as sunlight or overhead lamps. In the Portrait Relight tool, you can adjust ambient lighting for both the subject and the background separately:

  • Color: Use the Color Picker to select a different color for the ambient light. The default color is white.
  • Intensity: Adjust the slider to control how much of the original color is mixed with the new light color. Higher intensity means less of the original color shows through.
  • Saturation: This controls the vibrancy of the light color. Increase saturation for more vivid colors or decrease for a muted, grayscale effect.
  • Highlights and Shadows: Use these sliders to fine-tune the lightest and darkest areas of your image.
portrait relight options

Step 4: Configure Individual Lights (Optional)

The Portrait Relight tool also allows you to manipulate up to five individual lights, if you wish to. Each light can be adjusted for its type, color, location, and direction:

To do this, click on the light symbol (Light 1, Light 2, etc.) that you wish to alter. A ring will appear around the selected light on the canvas.

change light directions and types

Choose between Omni (omnidirectional) and Direct (directional) lighting. Omni radiates light evenly in all directions, like candlelight. Direct, on the other hand, emits light in a single direction, similar to a flashlight.

You can also use the Color Picker to change the light color. The icon for each light will change to reflect the chosen color.

change light color

Finally, you can drag the light icon on the canvas to reposition it. Adjust the direction by dragging the mini target that appears when you click on the light icon.

Step 5: Fine-Tune Final Light Settings

You can also further edit your light settings if you wish to. Each light can be adjusted using several sliders:

  • Affect Subject: Controls how much the light affects the subject.
  • Affect Background: Controls how much the light affects the background.
  • Falloff: Adjusts the decrease in brightness with distance. Lower values mean brighter lights.
  • Depth: Alters the perception of distance and dimension created by the light. Adjust this by rotating the dial around the light source icon.
adjust subject lighting

Step 6: Apply and Save Your Portrait Relight Effect

Once you’ve set up your lighting, click Apply to save these changes. You can then continue editing your portrait (for example, using our Touch Up tools or other photo effects) or save your project if you're done. To save, just click Save at the top of the screen, then select your desired save location.

save relit photo

Final Results: Enhanced Portrait Lighting in Seconds

It’s hard to believe just how realistic our relighting effects look, but all it takes is a few clicks to achieve professional-level portrait lighting – even after the fact.

relit after
final portrait relit before



How to Relight Your Portraits on iPhone

Looking to relight a portrait you captured on your phone? The Portrait Relight effects are also part of BeFunky’s mobile app, which lets you relight your photo while on-the-go. Our app is available for both iPhone and Android users. The best part is there’s still no learning curve – the editing process is the same as outlined above!

mobile portrait relight

Inspiration: Other Reasons to Use Our Photo Lighting Editor

Perhaps you don’t want to add studio lighting to your portrait, but instead want to transport your subject to a different location, make it look like your portrait was taken at a different time of day, or even add a spooky effect. These are three more of our favorite ways to use the Portrait Relight tool.

Choose a Different Setting

Some of the more creative Portrait Relight effects won’t just enhance the light in your photo, but they also replace your portrait’s background with an entirely different location. Just some of these include the beach, city streets, forest, desert, and more.

In this example, we used the Forest Road effect.

relight portrait scene after
relight scenery before



Create a Lighting Effect for a Different Time of Day

Want to recreate the lighting from a cityscape at night, but your portrait was captured during golden hour? Or perhaps you’ve taken a portrait during the middle of the day (when the sun is at its highest, and therefore casts harsher shadows), only to want the warmer lighting of a sunset instead. All of this is possible using our relighting tool.

Take this studio portrait, for example, which was captured during the day. By adding the Beach Sunset effect, we’ve not only given our subject a realistic new background, but also the warm glow of the evening sun.

sunset relight before



Add Spooky Lighting

No spooky story told around the campfire is complete without a torchlight shining from below the storyteller’s chin. If you want to achieve the same scary lighting on your own portrait, you can – no flashlight, campfire, or night sky needed. Just use our Ghost Story effect within the Portrait Relight tool instead!

relight spooky after
spooky lighting before



Light Up Your Portraits Using the Power of AI

Forget spending hours trying to achieve the most perfect lighting in your portraits. With BeFunky’s Portrait Relight tool, you can achieve your desired lighting within just a few clicks of your mouse, thanks to intuitive AI.

Start experimenting with the Portrait Relight effects today to see how they can relight your portraits in seconds! 

Photo Editing. Simplified