Lighting. Why do we light?
We light objects/subjects/models for four reasons.
1) To illuminate.
Duh. Without light, there is no photo. Photography is quite literally the art of painting with light. It is not about the camera, the lens, the model, the makeup, that cute thing your cat does, your “vision” and artistic expression. Photography is about light. Full stop.
But this is where a lot of people end – they purely put light down do illuminate the subject, and they forget there is more to lighting than “mere” illumination.
2) Lighting gives shape and dimension.
With a light, we can make a relatively flat object look round and “full”, and we can flatten out a round object to be utterly flat. And the problem is, most people over-light their subject and thus become “flat”. Highlight and shadow is what gives an object its shape. How light falls – and does not fall – on a subject will give it its shape. When placing your light(s), think about where the highlight are will be, and where the shadow area will be, and how these will emphasise the shape of your object.
3) Lighting creates drama.
Lighting is an artistic, creative tool in your arsenal. It is a primary device in delivering your vision. How you place a light can give you feelings from light and airy, to deep and dramatic. Use your light to aid your “vision”.
4) Light makes people look where you want them to look.
The eye is always attracted to the point of highest contrast in any image. Use your light to make people look at what you want them to look at. use it to create the point of contrast you want your audience to focus on.
Light is your primary tool as a photographer. Not your camera, not your lens, your light.
The quality of any image is directly proportional to the quality of your light.
How you work your light – be it artificial or natural, is what makes or breaks a photo. I would like to urge all photographers, especially the novices, to start thinking more about their light. How am I lighting this image? Why am I lighting it this way? what would happen if I put my light there instead of here? Asking critical questions regarding light, and using light to solve the problems and to make your vision real, will greatly enhance your photography.