If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred thousand times already, and it’s something you already know.Lighting is important. Lighting can make a person look fantastic, years younger and pounds thinner, or it could have the opposite effect. Case in point, this image from our Lighting 101 Workshop DVD:



Yes, light is important to make your subject look great (or not so great), but lighting can also be used to tell the story. Think about all the scary movies you’ve seen. Most, if not all of them are dark and shadowy, with eerie high-pitched music that builds the suspense until your heart is racing, and you want to cover your eyes. Suspenseful scenes are rarely set on the beach while the sun is shining, and birds are chirping (except for Jaws…and maybe Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Birds’). Anyhow, light in cinematography and photography can be a powerful tool to enhance the story you’re trying to convey.

In the following tutorial, Lighting With Story In Mind, Simon Cade of DSLR Guide gives many techniques to help you tell a story using lighting. Though the video is geared for filmmakers, much of what he shares is applicable to photography as well. He discusses four aspects of lighting that are important to consider: placement, intensity, color and quality with examples from popular movies demonstrating each.


This 10-minute video is the second in a series called, ‘Storytelling with Cinematography.’ The first video covers framing and composition to help tell the story and is also worth a watch. Both videos can be applied to cinematography and photography to create better stories for your viewer.

Equipment Used:

Watch Lighting – Storytelling with Cinematography

You can see diagrams from the video above as well as the first video at DSLR Guide’s blog post here and make sure you check them out on their website, Twitter, and Instagram.

[Via No Film School]