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  • toby wray

Video Tips for Marketeers #6 Three Point Lighting

Lighting is a bit more advanced but it’s lots of fun playing with light in a controlled environment and it really helps when it comes to thinking about your natural light sources and how best to use them. I'm repeating this content from an article a few weeks back but it really is worth it.


I used to think lighting had to be complicated, I’d seen photographers messing with light meters and making minuscule adjustments to lights and was left completely in the dark (sorry to start off with such a bad pun). Then I was at film school and our first project I was given 3 small lights and had to light a whole church with them, it made me realise you can do a lot with very little.


The classic light set up is 3 Point Lighting. It consists of a main or ‘key’ light. A back light and a ‘fill’ which literally fills in any shadows so they aren’t too harsh.



The ‘key’ light is usually to the front and side of the subject so both cheeks are lit but one more than the other. Ideally it’s slightly raised so the nose shadow falls naturally in the crease of the cheek. It creates relief without being too obtrusive, ideally it’s from a large soft source a bit like a window.




(Picture) Keylight with a strong backlight added, note the shadows on the face are still quite strong.

The backlight highlights the subject from it’s background with a line of light, especially important if the background and subject are relatively dark. This can be a strong, even harsh light, take care that it doesn’t fall on the camera lens though as this will bleach out your darks and reduce contrast.


(Picture) Three point lighting, naturalistic and usually flattering (can't do much about this grumpy face though!)


The ‘fill’ isn’t always needed, in a naturally light room there is often enough ambient light without it. You can use a low/dimmable light source or even just a reflector of some sort to bounce light into the shadows.


Now you know about this classic style next time you’re watching a drama on TV look out for it, it’s used 90% of the time, and suddenly you realise just how much you thought of as natural light is actually very cleverly contrived.

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