Photo by James Bold on Unsplash

George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak company and who helped bring the use of film into the mainstream in the 20th century said, “Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of light lately and how amateurs can use light to their advantage when shooting photo OR video content.

While having light kits or a well-lit studio can be advantageous for video production that takes place in a controlled environment, those tools aren’t always available and they can be expensive. However, some of the most engaging videos take place outside of the studio. It is in these uncontrolled locations where, as Eastman says, videographers need to know light.

Many entry-level point and shoot cameras such the Canon Vixia, DSLRs, and even smartphones handle a multitude of lighting conditions without the need for additional lights. However, in order to maximize the power of these cameras, every videographer needs to understand a few basic rules of lighting before they can knowingly break the rules.

What I tell my clients is the primary light source needs to be behind the camera pointing at the subject. When you set up your camera and subject this way, you ensure they are the central focus of your shot.

So if, for example, I wanted to feature the man sitting at his computer in front of the window, I would need to reposition the camera so that the sunlight/daylight was behind the camera and lighting up the man’s face.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Both of these examples do an excellent job of using light to highlight the people in the shot. Note that the light is illuminating the subjects’ faces in each of these images. And because of this, you can clearly see the mood/tone the videographer is trying to share with the viewer.

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

Photo by Eloise Ambursley on Unsplash

Now, once you know the rule and you purposefully want to break it go right ahead as seen in this photo where the photographer intentionally put the foreground subjects in silhouette in order to highlight the painting hanging from the museum entryway across the street.

Photo by Jared Arango on Unsplash

Know your light! Know where it is in relation to your subject matter and let it do the work for you!

Are you looking for more tips and tricks to highlight the video content you create for your own business? Contact Kara Clayton.