Lighting for Photography: Everything You Need to Know


About Lighting for Photography, Are you looking for ways to improve your photography skills? One of the most important factors to consider is lighting. There are a few different types of lighting that you can use when taking photos. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses. So it is important to consider which lighting will work best for your subject or scene. In this article, we will cover all about lighting for photography. From the different types of light to tips for working with different conditions!

Why Is Light Essential for Photography?

In photography, light is everything. It can set the mood of a photo, make it appear sharp or blurry, and even add an element of mystery. But why is light essential for photography?

Light is the source of illumination in a photograph. It can come from the sun, artificial light sources, or reflections. Also, light can create different effects in a photo. For example, making objects appear larger or smaller than they are.

How photographers use light will depend on the photo they’re trying to take. For example, a portrait photographer may use soft light to create a flattering effect. But a landscape photographer may use strong light to add a dramatic portrait to a scene.

And, of course, different types of light can have different colors. It can also create certain effects.

In short, light is one of the most important elements in photography. It can make or break a photo, and it’s something that every photographer needs to understand.

Adjusting the lighting setup

Adjusting the lighting setup

In What Ways Does Light Influence Your Photography?

Some key considerations when working with light include:

  • Color temperature
  • Direction
  • Intensity

Regarding color temperature, warm lighting will make colors more vibrant. And cool lighting will mute colors.

As for the direction of light, strong directional light can create sharp shadows. It helps define a subject in a photo.

And finally, the intensity of light impacts how your subjects appear in photos. Too much or too little light can wash out or drown out details.

Different color temperatures

Different color temperatures

What Are the Different Types of Photography Lighting?

In photography, there are many different types of lighting. Some of the most common include:

Natural Light

When shooting outdoors during the daytime, natural lighting is an excellent choice. This type of lighting can create soft and flattering portraits. Or add a dramatic touch to landscape shots.

Also, shooting at different times of the day can create various effects. For example, direct sunlight can add depth and texture to landscapes. Yet the golden hour in the late afternoon offers beautiful warm lighting.

Side Lighting

Side lighting is a great way to add dimension and texture to your photos. When working with side lighting, the light comes from either the left or right of your subject.

This type of lighting can emphasize texture and shape in a photo. It’s great for shooting portraits and landscapes, as it helps bring out details that might appear flat in photos.

A portrait inside lighting

A portrait inside lighting

Front Light (or Flat Light)

Front lighting, or flat lighting, is photography’s most common type of light. This type of continuous light is neutral. It doesn’t add any strong shadows or colors to photos.

This type of lighting may not seem very exciting on its own. But it can reduce any glare or reflections. Therefore, it is great for shooting glass objects or shiny surfaces.

Also, it can reduce any wrinkles or flaws in your subject’s face. It can be ideal for portrait photography.


Backlighting is when your subject faces a light source behind them. This type of lighting can create beautiful silhouettes in your photos.

Also, it creates dramatic effects in landscapes by adding depth and dimension.

A portrait using backlighting

A portrait using backlighting

Soft Light

Soft light is perfect for creating flattering portraits reducing any harsh shadows.

This type of lighting often comes from a large window. Or from an artificial source like a softbox, light modifier, or diffuser.

For instance, shooting during the golden hour when the natural sunlight is soft. This warmth can help to create flattering portraits.

Hard Light

Hard light is the exact opposite of soft lighting, as it produces dramatic and harsh effects that can be great for certain shots.

You can create hard light using artificial, LED, or studio lights. Or by shooting during midday when the sun is at its brightest.

Rim Light

Rim lighting is like backlighting when your subject faces a light source from behind.

But, instead of being in the dark, rim light adds a little bit of illumination to the edges of your subject. This type of lighting can help to add depth and dimension to your photos.

Rim light

Rim light

Loop Lighting

Loop lighting is a type of lighting that can help to cut any dark shadows on your subject’s face. This type of lighting comes from above and a little to the side.

In portrait photography, it creates a shadow beneath the nose. And this can lessen wrinkles and fine lines on your subject’s face.

Broad Lighting

Placing your subject further away from the light source means using broad lighting.

This type of lighting can be perfect for thin subjects. It helps to reduce any heavy shadows on the face and body.

Also, it produces large catchlights in the eyes, which can help create a more open and engaging expression.

Short Lighting

Short lighting is the opposite of broad lighting, as your subject will be facing closer to the light source.

This type of lighting can create dramatic shadows on the face and body. It can be great for fashion photography or other edgier styles.

Butterfly Lighting

Butterfly lighting is symmetrical lighting that’s great for creating flattering portraits. This lighting comes from above and places the light in front of the model’s face.

With this type of lighting, your model will have its head tilted to the side, and its chin turned toward the light.

It creates a shadow under one eye that can help to cut bags or dark circles under your model’s eyes.

Split Lighting

Split lighting is another symmetrical type of lighting that comes from one side. And it can be a great way to add dimension and depth to your photos as it helps to create shadows on one half of your model’s face but not the other.

It can be a great way to add drama and interest to your portraits. Also, it can be perfect for creating more artsy and abstract portraits.

Shadows on the model's face

Shadows on the model’s face

Rembrandt Lighting

This lighting gets its name from the famous artist Rembrandt. Who often used this type of lighting in his portraits.

This lighting comes from one side and places the light above your subject’s eye.

It produces a triangle-shaped shadow under the cheekbone and can help to add emphasis and dimension to your subject.

Fill Lighting

As the name suggests, fill lighting helps to fill in any shadows or dark areas on your subject’s face.

You can do this using a reflector or diffuser, which can be great for creating more flattering portraits.

How to Pick the Perfect Lighting for Your Photos?

Changes in lighting can transform a photo, making it go from mundane to breathtaking. Here are a few tips to help you pick the perfect lighting for your photos.

First, take a look at the subject of your photo. If you’re trying to capture something delicate, like a flower, you’ll want to use soft light. This kind of light will help to bring out the subtle details in your subject.

But, if you’re taking a picture of a dramatic landscape, you may want to use backlighting. Also, side lighting can create more contrast and depth.

Next, think about the mood you’re trying to create with your photo. Do you want it to be warm and inviting? Cool and refreshing? Bright and cheerful? The lighting that you choose should reflect the mood that you’re going for.

For this purpose, it’s also important to consider color. Use a fill lighting setup if you’re working with many vibrant colors. Also, you can use a diffuser to help create more contrast and depth.

Finally, pay attention to the time of day. The quality of light changes throughout the day, so the time you take your photo can make a big difference.

For example, the midday sun can create harsh shadows. But the light at dawn or dusk is much softer and more flattering.

Lighting setup

Lighting setup


You see, deciding on the key light for your photos can be a bit tricky. But by keeping these tips in mind, you should be able to choose the right photography lighting kits. We hope this advice helps you create stunning, unforgettable photos. If you still have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. 

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