Shine a light! Top tips for creating visual content

To mark World Photo Day (19th August) we’ve created a guide to help you keep your cool while navigating the minefield of technical jargon and potential pitfalls that go along with creating top-quality visual content. First up, the advice you need to get the lights right.


The Hollywood mantra ‘lights, camera, action’ does not put lights first for nothing! Without good lighting, all your hard work is merely a mess of megabytes cluttering up your desktop trash.

Take your time

Lighting takes time. So, if you are on a studio or location shoot, allow space in the schedule for lighting your scene before the expensive model or caffeine-deprived CEO arrives.

Location, location

Always build in time for a reconnaissance to check out the site (this applies to AUDIO too). Make sure you will have enough light, space, power, shelter and access to catering (an underfed team are a grumpy team after all).

Back to basics

A basic lighting rig consists of three lights: a main key (a small spotlight); a fill (for highlighting people and props); and a kicker (to back-light subjects). For a room or studio, you should have at least a key light. If you are outside, consider a fill. If your photo or video crew say they won’t supply a lighting rig, consider hiring your own.

Here comes the sun

Too much light can cause as many problems as an under-supply. If you are in a glassy art gallery or café, check if there are blinds or curtains to block out unwanted light. Also, the camera’s auto settings can adjust for brightness, leaving your person a shadowy talking head and your video looking like an out-take from Crimewatch. Consider using portable LED rings which can be positioned on tripods or hand-held to shed some light on the subject.

The source of course

Glaring, but easy to forget – make sure you have sufficient power sources. If you are filming in a heritage-listed house, you might need to supply a generator. And, whatever you do, make sure you take enough batteries (the right type too) and chargers – even if you are only using your smartphone!

Of course, if you’re still not confident that you’ve got it right you can always call in the experts.

Next time: Camera.

Author: bethkeehn

Writer, editor, photographer and drummer. Loves working with talented teams, like the nice people at Speak Media.

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