I wrote a post about this about a year ago, but I decided to take down the original post so I could go back and tackle this subject again.
I really love side lighting. It’s really wonderful for shooting indoors in black and white and creating a wonderful, moody photo.
So much of how your photo’s mood is seen has to do with lighting. I think side lighting can be somber, pensive, quiet and deeply emotional.
This shot takes an interesting turn on child portraiture. She’s cute as a doll, but it’s a sweet, quiet, pensive shot - which I feel comes from the shadows and contrast.
Same idea, different day. I shot with the light of a glass door between her and I, then bumped the contrast even more in post processing.
The moodiness the light lends puts her deep in thought.
This also reads as a somber mood to me, even though the light is more behind him than to the side.
So, what do we take out of all this? First, use natural light. Second, break all the rules for using light! Put the light behind your subject, next to it. Experiment. Photography isn’t a science, it’s an art and you will need to break rules and experiment to find your personal style.