Photography Tips: Lighting For Beginners

When it comes to photography, as they say, "lighting is everything". Whether you are just getting started as a professional photographer or are simply the person that pulls out their camera whenever a photo opportunity pops up, lighting has a huge effect on the end result of the photo. While professional studio lights can be quite costly, there are alternatives to studio lights that can provide the same effects for the beginning photographer. Here are some simple guidelines to help you get the perfectly lit shot.

Halogen Lighting For Indoor Shots

Halogen lamps work well for indoor photo shoots, and incandescent bulbs are also a good light source, as long as they have a higher wattage. Typically, fluorescent lights should not be used due to the fact that photos taken under this type of lighting tend to require a high level of color correction.

Light Reflectors and Diffusers

In order to soften the light in the room and minimize glare, you may need to incorporate a diffuser into your photo shoot. You can purchase diffusers at most camera equipment stores, and you can also use paper or plastic as a low cost alternative. It is important to note that halogen as well as incandescent bulbs can ignite the diffuser if it is set up close to the bulbs, so you want to make sure the paper or plastic is at a safe distance while remaining close enough to allow for the softened effect. White cardboard can be used to minimize shadows, and this can be purchased at any office supply store. You can also purchase silver reflectors from any camera equipment store. By adjusting your lights and experimenting with diffusers and reflectors, you will learn what works best for each particular shoot.

Multiple Light Sources

To minimize harsher shadows, take advantage of all the lighting sources that you have. You can also use one or two lights to light the background of the photo, and if any of your light sources have a dimmer, this is an easy way to experiment with various lighting effects.

I played around with a small light box on a dimmer for this photo of my daughter. I had her in front of some natural light but I aimed a small box off to the side to bring out her eyes. 

Practice Makes Perfect

While lighting your first few photo shoots may prove to be a bit challenging, the best thing about photography is that you can constantly experiment to achieve your desired effect. And through various lighting experimentation and test shoots, you never know: what you may consider a beginner's mishap may actually end up producing an amazing photo.