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.

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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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