Three-point lighting is the lighting equivalent of the rule of thirds, in that it’s used everywhere. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the best option. It’s a tool, and like every tool, it works great in some situations and not so well in others. The problem is many photographers don’t consider context enough when they plan a photoshoot. And as a result, their lighting can look out of place, fake even. In this video from JP Stones, we’ll look at how to analyze your images to make sure you don’t create tension with out of context lighting so you can start creating cinematic lighting.

JP calls it the “Real to Surreal spectrum” and this video is about spotting if your photos are on the right part of that spectrum. Now we’re not saying one is better than the other, just that every creative decision you make will affect where your photo sits on this spectrum.


[Related Reading: What Makes A Photograph Great?]

To not trigger unwanted attention from the viewer, every element in the photo needs to work in harmony to create a cohesive scene. Achieving this isn’t exactly easy as there’s no magic recipe that works for every scene. Just be sure your image, whether real or surreal, doesn’t contain any elements that conflict with that setting/message, otherwise you’ll trigger your subconscious and pull yourself out of the magic.

“Real” lighting


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