The Magic of Good Lighting

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The secret is out for artists and Instagram users, good light is paramount for high quality. Luckily the power of lighting is in your hands. The magic of good lighting is such a broad topic it would take an entire book to cover it. Suffice it to say that anyone who’s watched a sunset can appreciate that there is a lot going on when we talk about ‘good lighting’ so here is a brief introduction on how lighting is used in different setting and industries and why that is important to you when you’re planning your next event.

Flat Lighting

Portrait photographers and Instagram starlets are familiar with flat lighting – it smoothes features and makes everything look brand new. More drama is infused with different positions for the main light source. Moving the main light source off and around the face elongates shadows and brings out detail, first in hair and then on to other parts of the face until you get the most dramatic light at a 90-degree angle to the subject’s face. The light in this arrangement is very dramatic and will pick up every blemish and detail.


Remember those ghost stories told around the campfire as kids? The best ghost stories always seemed to have someone with the flashlight shining on their face from way below. That’s one way to be intimidating. Mixing colors in the lighting can bring out different moods, too. Silver and blue for an amped up party night. Purple and gets the room looking all lusty and romantic. Green and yellow side lighting–zombie movie anyone?

Setting the Mood

If you live in a place with long winters you already know that getting enough natural light can have profound effects on our mood. Even light in short doses can affect your mood. The fluorescent lights at work really are draining, and you don’t have to spend 8 hours under them to feel them. The same goes for good lighting in good places, like that next big seminar in the works.

When planning lighting for an event you want to consider:

  • How will the light fall on the people here?
  • What kind of mood am I trying to achieve and how can the light help?
  • How much do I want to rely on lighting and when is it too much?

To help you set up your lighting let’s go over a few photography terms that might relate to your event, whether you’re trying to build a stage or a dance floor or simply just a good wedding.

Lighting Basics

Key lighting is going to be your main light. Its position will be important because it will determine the strength and direction of shadows. Don’t want shadows? You’ll want a fill light – a big diffuse lightbox is used to bath the area much like sunlight but with much less intensity and more room for fun colors for highlights. Don’t forget rim lighting and backlighting. The event planners at WPI are eager to help you with all your lighting needs.