5 Lighting Concepts Photographers Could Borrow From Cinematographers

Cinematography and photography might be separate disciplines in most regards, but there are a lot of crossovers, particularly when it comes to lighting. That's an area each profession can borrow from the other.

Light cares not for what you're doing with it, and for videographers, cinematographers, photographers, and simply people with a camera phone, its recorded in more or less the same way, with only the amount of light necessary to achieve a look changing. The fundamentals of how to light a scene or a person do not really vary, and I find that many of the most cinematic lighting setups you see are my favorite for editorial portraits too.

In fact, when I've had to do several portrait shoots for magazines in testing conditions (invariably with a musician in a room at their label) I immediately call upon lighting concepts from cinema. My rule is generally, if the location is boring, the light has to be interesting. I'm not sure I have ever been in a location where a change of perspective and lighting couldn't solve an otherwise dull shoot.

In this (frankly superb) video, In Depth Cine goes through five common lighting concepts you will see in cinematography, and why cinematographers ought to have all of them in their arsenal. While he aims it at cinematographers, photographers can get a lot from the information and examples given.

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Kirk Darling's picture

I take issue with the article title "5 Lighting Concepts Photographers Could Borrow From Cinematographers."

All of those lighting techniques predate cameras--painters have used them for centuries. They have certainly always been used in still photography, not something to be "borrowed" from cinematography. Granted, that is not the point made by the video.

Paul Trantow's picture

Right, and still photographers and cinematographers have shared theory and execution since day 1. Rephrase the dumb headline, Fstoppers!

Catherine Bowlene's picture

Agree with previous posters. I remember an article on PetaPixel that focused around some scenes from Queen's Gambit and photography rules applied to them. That was interesting, and far more informative, I'd say. Photographers and cinematographers use practically the same approach (of course you can't fix movie scenes in Photoworks or Photoshop, but there are many similarities anyway), so there is nothing to actually borrow, and the headline is kinda misleading.

Charles Duffy's picture

Please, _please_ start notating articles that don't actually contain the claimed content as being links to videos in a way that visitors reaching the site via Google's news feed can see. I hate videos -- would far prefer to read textual content -- but can't currently get them out of my feed without blocking the site altogether.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Use this as a guidance.

T Van's picture

They are called director's of photography for a reason....Just because you're exposing film frames at many times a second doesn't make it also photography.