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Rules of Lighting

Lesson 3 from: Wedding Photography Problems and Solutions

Roberto Valenzuela

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Lesson Info

3. Rules of Lighting

Lesson Info

Rules of Lighting

We're gonna be discussing lighting a lot on dh I've read maybe twenty thirty books on lighting already I do lighting all the time and the more I read the more confused I get who's with me on that right you have you have a book that basically a lot of this resource is give you a million options you can do this with twenty two flashes you can do this with five flashes here stand different looks here's seventeen hundred modifiers is that right here is the modifier you can get from here here's a crazy motive fire from their everybody has a little plastic one of a metal one okay and you go and you buy everything and then you're at the wedding everything goes out the window and everything blows up because you don't know what the heck is what anymore okay the problem I think that we're having in the way we take lighting in photographic lighting is the most important tool we have it's like our oil paints if you're a painter okay is that we are concerned way too much on what the possibilities a...

re off the light let me repeat that we're concerned too much with what the possibilities are off the light I'm going to try to simplify this for everyone out there it's easier to know what you don't want then to try to figure out which of the ten thousand million possibilities you could go for that particular portrait yeah we all know what we don't want for example if somebody says to me I don't know how to play the piano at all but if somebody says to me play mary had a little lamb I don't know howto play it but I sure know how to not play it right I know that if I go like this I know it's not mary had a little lamb so I am achieving something I know what I don't want when it comes to lighting sunlight doesn't matter who cares if you don't know what you don't want that sunlight is going to be your enemy who cares don't worry about all this and died of money to do that and turn the head nothing matters when it comes to the son if you do not know what it is you do not want to achieve with the sun then that son is not going to help you okay multiple flashes you can have all of these flashes here I have a bunch of flashes you can have all of these things doesn't matter the only thing that matters is that you know what you don't want to do with these flashes okay know what you can do no what modifiers you can buy not how many settles you khun d'oh but what you don't want to achieve with these once you get that everything will start to kind of fall into place okay all the fly shops in the world don't matter unless you raise all of that out of our memory banks and let's just swiped that wipe that clean very alights don't matter who cares reflectors and the future's don't matter we used them but we only used him to weekend counter attack what we don't want okay shade also doesn't matter so let's talk about what that means I call this little system light five because I was going to call it big five but I thought it's really a light five thing okay these five things I'm going to give you right now everyone in the internet everyone watching over the world should probably write this down because this is going to simplify lighting forever for you okay scald light five here it is when you're taking a portrait of anything or anyone you know what you don't want on this are the things you probably do not want and we can all agree that if we're trying to take a professional picture or a professional grade photo we cannot have any of these if we have a single one of these items in our portrait it is no longer a professional grade picture okay, so here we go the first thing is we do not want harsh spotty or disorganized shadows in the face what does that mean? It doesn't mean putting a cool graphic shadow in the face that's an organized shadow I'm talking about shadows and highlights and shadows and highlights that don't be long that there's no order to them so remember the wording is very important here this is harsh spotty or disorganized shadows in the face okay if you ever take a picture of anyone and you see that you have to you have to do something about it okay second you can never have burnt out highlights in the face it's just not acceptable you cannot have the whole left side of the cheek blown out because the son here they're right in the face that is not professional grade picture okay third you can never have squinty ice the simple is that you can have a beautiful portrait and if the eyes are like this you just messed up the whole thing so that's the third thing we know we don't want for my subjects face or your subject's face um when it's obvious face to be dark to be darker than the background unless it's a silhouette so you think you have a beautiful location you have a subject if their face is darker then the background and it's not a silhouette picture you have a problem and you have to do something about it ok fifth like in kite flights on my subjects like in kites lights on my subjects ice okay if if you can remember these five things today tomorrow the next day everyone in you shoot if you take a picture of crystal on her face is darker than the background we no we don't want that instead of trying to mail helpyou with ten thousand lighting setups on possibilities I'm going to help you by giving you five things to remember that's a lot easier five things two rooms a lot easier than seventeen thousand things you could do with all this stuff all these tools this reflector flash very alights thief users the sun, the clouds everything are tools for you to be able to control these five things. So so if you can think of these as tools to fix that abel simplify your world a lot more for example let me pick on my friend david here for example you have a subject on the background is brighter than their face. Which tools could you use to fix that issue? It depends on how far away the subject is from you but if he or she has close you could use a reflector that would work well you could use uh speed by if they're far away that's actually a question that I have for you in this course but use a larger flash uh you could use a silver reflector maybe for that on the goal is very simple make the subject at least at least justus bright as your background what even better would be if your subject is brighter in the background but see it's so much easier imagine all the photos you have taken how much easier it is to just think do I have one of these five things in this picture I need the answers may I have one of them they're squinting then you need to have them close their eyes and tell himto open it because thie iris doesn't react to light it takes about a quarter of a second for the irish to react to the light before the irish closest you have a quarter second that's plenty oftime for you to get up be sure of them with their eyes wide open in the harshest light possible so just remember that you're trying to fix five things if you encounter one you have to fix it with your tools with your flash with your very light with your reflector with your diffuser with the sun or with shape okay okay like five examples let's go ahead and talk everybody can participate if you're online you're a piece of paper and pencil what did you write down in your piece of paper and pencil what what with one of the five do you see here if you see multiple of the fives right? Both okay, so it's a little fun thing to do by the way, if you're watching online I wanted to go to your portfolio from your last wedding on go through these five things that just talked about I can go through all of your bride and groom portrait's go through your fashion porches if your fashion for longer if you're a portrait photographer go through your last photo shoot and see if you find any of these five things in here I do a little assignment and start circling in photo shop where the problem is goto a red brush circle it save it put it in a red folder this is my problem I had squinty eyes here you khun circle it and then typing photoshopped squinty eyes right? Okay, so, uh let's see cecilia can I pick you for a sec? Which what what? Which one did you see which of the five too you see in the face is that acceptable now? Heck no. How can you fix that? Um maybe a diffuser good. What else do you see? Uh let me speak on let me see sarah she has squinty eyes, squinty eyes pretty squinty. But what is the main one? Did you see in this picture this organized spotty shadows in the face? This picture looks quite terrible because he's got three of them it's got the squinty it's got the burned face and it's got the disorganized shadows in the face that's what you would call a homerun in awfulness okay, this is a good picture of a great looking guy depends where you are if you ask my wife she would agree if you ask somebody else matter of opinion although we shouldn't be buddy this okay but just okay what do you see which of the five is hitting this picture his face um he's darker than the background mittleman she's brighter actually but which one there's another one look at the right side the highlight on the face the hell out of my face this time there is no disorganized shadows in the face right it's clear we'll look at the right side of the face is completely destroyed therefore you have one of the problems one of the five you need to fix it is this helping one of the five now let me pick on crystal get the microphone please yes if you have a burnt out highlight on the face and you do not have a diffuser and you do not have a flash on you do not have anything on you have to fix this what do you do that's the easiest solution to this problem um the easiest yeah uh rotate his body that's it yeah it's simple see rotate the body so that the apex of the shadow of the person you're photographing it's exactly where you're standing as the photographer that means that the sun is now directly behind their head and there is no possibility of off the life spilling through their cheeks okay, so right this is a little difficult so I'm gonna pick on actually fisher because she flew here okay that's terrible. Which one of the five which one of the fives do you see in this photograph? Um okay so I can't really see it that's really far away for me but I'm guessing probably no catch lights that's it that's it it's no catch lights theyre just as bright as the background but the problem in this photo is that there's no catch lights now if you go around if you go around photographing your george your clients were not thinking about this you need to figure out a way to fix it so I'm gonna pick on you're the winner they are right you have a portrait like this you took this class of creative life you're like a remember roberto said these five things I need to remember this one is like in cash lights how do you fix it? Ah pearlie I try to use a flash to pump their faces if you okay that's good you could use a flash um how would you use that flash? Because you don't want to change the exposure right? You're just trying to get a catch late on the eye uh people change this pusher attack but you don't want to make it like a dramatically different yes, but what would you do? Um um I like you the fly like said the flash to another directions and I use maybe as the future just to like you could grab any exactly you could grab anything paper, paper and throw the flash in that direction. The flash will bounce into their eye and they will just give him a little kiss off light into into the into the eye case of light into the right, not a case of eye, because that would be really gross saying you would have a kiss off light into their eyes. It's very easy for the eyeball to catch catch light it's very easy all you need is a little tiny bit, you know you could grab you could grab your flash on the camera, whatever turning turning towards them from punch and hits him in the face. It doesn't change the exposure too much, you can't even that turned the volume down on the power of the light right on, then you will get the catch light without the exposure change. Okay, roberto, I have a question if you're doing engagement photos or even a wedding on a gray day, are you going to using a flash for every shot in what you're describing their to give anything away? If you're doing your photo shoot on a gray day, we're not going to get some like exactly are you goingto have somebody doing what use describe have a flash of the white piece of paper or a diffuser or something to get something that came up with now you could use anything I I use the sun bounce um you could use a piece of paper there son bounces a company that makes reflectors and stuff and they make a little thing that you put in the heart you are that that that just to your flash on it's like a little wall and you can turn the flash stores and bounced people bounced the light yeah I don't have to have an assistant for that you could do it yourself you know I mean if you don't have someone you can just turn the flash on days when you're kissing your camera right and then just take the picture and just hold a piece of paper you know if you see a wall or something turning that way that's it you know you know guys what I'm trying to say is that there's no magic insane genius formula to fix all these problems a lot of them are solved super easily like a piece of paper pulled there you go done or or what you said just rotate them right so you don't get the burn what's wrong with this picture the shadows, the disorder three sites everything really right what's wrong with this one squinty eyes that's it what do you see here that's a super seal super simple okay guys see you see the value ofthe how you could fix these five things once none of these five things exist you have now what I would consider a professional grade photograph I didn't say it was an award winning first place in the world to the universe picture I'm talking about getting down to the most basic form of professional photography in terms of lighting okay what is the simplest way to think I need a professional grade picture in everything I do because I am a professional photographer and the simplest thing is not to think well I could throw in twenty two flashes and put him here and there or I could pull our seventeen very lights the five easiest things to remember is I cannot have any of these five items okay that's a tremendous help trust me it has changed the way I light every wedding I have a bride in front of me or of subject and I think with those five thinks on it once I don't have them I have a good start okay this was one of the models on my last creative life course and I took this picture to remember toe talk about this issue what is the problem here? She's not squinting it's a highlight under forty island in her face right in a row all face now look at her nose so you see her knows that now let me discussing important remember I talked about how people use the flash on we put it behind the bride and groom and we do like a rain life thing going on we all do it we do it all the time I do it to you have to remember that position this carefully so you don't get the nose to have a little piece off flash on the corner of the nose on dh the rest is good if you do that you're adding you're adding harsh shadows and disorganized spot effect lighting in the face look at this. This is not acceptable for a great professional photography you could have a beautiful model and you have one of those elements and the photo goes out the window. Okay, do we have any questions to end of the segments before we what kind of question is that? Yes, we have questions. People are really enjoying the five. What are you calling them? Reverted the five rules of the lights. Fife the light five that's, right. Ok, I'll put it up again. That would be awesome. Thank you for that. The light five. Okay, first question, this is from robert sixteen sixty four who asked by directing to the latest details the actors are you not destroying the spirit and the mood of the wedding? Hmm, interesting, um no, of course not uh you know, because you post on one and you tell him what to do to create a beautiful image that doesn't mean you shut yourself down from photo journalism that's happening in front of you the sun makes sense like you're not saying I'm gonna pose this picture and I'm gonna make a look beautiful you're just creating a moment you're creating a memory and portrayed right here putting the daughter and the father of the bride in the same photograph who wouldn't want that now if the father of the bride happens to be doing something cool and something emotional naturally you could photograph that too you're not changing the fight that you're still keeping a keen eye for photo journalism you're just sitting there waiting for things to happen for you you know what I mean in weddings if you sit there and you wait for things to happen for you you're gonna end up waiting for entire eight hours sometimes you have to do something about it and you're not destroying anything you're just simply creating a portrait, you know? So all right we're gonna go back to pre visualization and question on that from a pro photographer how does deaths of field considerations come into play in the pre visualization process? So are you considering that when you got a beautiful question because uh that field can be a story storytelling toe so definite field is not just I like controlling tool it's also a storytelling toe what I would have done with a father here I would have considered that for field that would give you enough ofthe detail in the father because it's in silhouette so maybe like an f four a five point six I wouldn't have done f ate we have two point eight because then the depending on where you are you don't want the father to be this big bloody blurry image makes sense you're focusing on the bride right? So if the father is in the foreground about five, six feet from the bride, you have to think now your aperture has to be able to encompass the entire area to became both in focus now do you need both in perfect focus? Of course not so you don't have to go to f twenty two, but at five point six I had a reasonable distance from the from the father is going to give you good enough detail on the father without blurring him all the way through. So actually, aperture is a beautiful story telling tour on becomes too that question actually, maybe when we do the next segment's we can actually add some we'll do some storytelling through our choice of aperture okay shutter speed aperture and all of that their storytelling tools for you you could always slow down the shutter aunt have movement in the bride's while she walks by and you can see her movement while the father standing still that's a shutter way of creating a story so see, the thing is if he goes back to way we need to push yourselves creatively if I would have gone to ashley fisher and I would have kept her going for ten more minutes you would have killed me that's the first thing that would have happened she would have killed me number one number two she would've started sweating profusely right number three that's a good sign it means you're using your brain and the more you do this that more second actually is will become okay so very nice okay, roberta we have time for a couple more questions. This question is another pre visualization question from sam cox who's in loveland, colorado hello, sam roberto do you recommend practicing pre visual visualizing all the time wherever you are until it becomes second nature? Yeah, I mean, you can pre visualize things even when you're just sitting at home like if you're watching tv you have a window you have a couch you have on ottoman where the tv is standing right? Could you do something with that? Could you put a person there? I think this is very difficult for people to do so I tell people my workshops that if you spend maybe five minutes five minutes, maybe a day trying to do something like that, trying to pre visualize, like, in that little bench trying to visualize you first start with the torso off the body, you can visualize that right away, but then it gets really difficult to kind of memorize where the hands would be, where the legs would be, what her expression should be, what her one of her hands doing. And once you start memorizing all of that, you have to keep it all in your memory, and then you have to bring the model or the subject or whoever you're doing, and then you have to execute, and if you don't do that, like actually, when I ask you to come up, you cannot froze, right? Like everybody in the internet apparently will too, and that's because it's not like you have spent five minutes and they're doing this and, you know, the brain is a muscle, right? You just have to develop it developed when I used to be a classical guitarist. I used to look at the music and I used to be like, I mean, there's no way I'm gonna be able to play from here to here while I'm playing six dollars per second, my fingers are not going to move that fast. But the problem is you have to pre visualize where your fingers are going to be before they have before they're they're so I'm playing here and I have to go here and I'm playing and I know it's coming and it's coming then my eyes and look where I need to be on my finger jumps right to it so you guys I think I think the key here it's not to just listen to this course on enjoy it, I think the key here is to actually implement what I'm trying to show what I'm trying to teach it are not teaching you techniques and photography I'm really trying to teach you a methodology a system in your brain that you can follow, you know, because this is only a three day class once this is over, I don't want people to go home and be like, oh, that was great next, you know what I mean? I want people to be like, this was great, I'm goingto do something about it I'm going to spend five minutes stare at a wall and visualize somebody standing there, fix the post, stare on a couch, picture that same person laying on the couch you're sitting on the couch, what's their back, doing whether their shoulders doing visualize that you'd do that for five minutes and trust me when you have ah clients in front of you your brain will not betray you your brain will be like I've done this a million times but I have a question for you when ashley was up here my heart started beating fast for you actually and I have been in that situation so many times pretty much every time I'm on a photo shoot um do you still go through that at every wedding? Do you have a moment where you're completely stressed and anxious and haven't I do it? You lose all you know I don't get nervous, but we get nervous because we you know, we care about what we do and we care about doing a great job and you don't know what you don't know what's gonna happen during the day you don't know how the energy is gonna be like but although I'm nervous, I'm also super super confident in the fact that I I come well trained like I don't come guessing and hoping and praying I don't come thinking my camera takes eight pictures per second I'm gonna use every single one of those I come thinking I know my eye can detect beauty in any room I know light I know howto understand I understand lights behavior the beautiful thing about life is that it's it's physics it's like mathematics it never changes that the loss of lights are constant it will never change the sunlight behaves the same exact way as the little flash sitting on this table, those big strokes you by do the same exact thing they behave the same exact way but thought it was actually pretty predictable in that way, people, I'm telling me I'm saying photography is pretty predictable it's actually not that complicated like study them study the behavior of light and you will never have light problems again and I will discuss the behavior of light today we'll talk about the most fundamental, um, loss of light. Okay, so I think that's what's so cool about this courses kind of filling that gap between that anxiety and the pressure of feeling like you're going to fail and the space between that and having the confidence and knowing that you you know how to conquer each challenge correct, I think once you went you are about to perform are performing when you're about to do a shoot that's when the stomach's turning and you feel this anxiety all over you, but once it's go time once it's time to start your training takes over. You know your training takes over so kind of like a track runner like I speak like a sprinter or something, you know that you have the muscle movement toe run super fast and sprint, you don't have to worry, I'm I have fast runner um, I fast you already know you're fast, so you could have come with that confidence, you know? And we just need to train ourselves a little bit more. We have to think that a little more seriously.

Class Materials

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21 Point Posing Framework.pdf

Ratings and Reviews


Roberto is a great photographer and a great teacher. Roberto took me a little bit to get used to because rather than just memorizing, Roberto teachers you how to think like a great photographer. Roberto studies the best of the best photographers and painters and he incorporates it in his photography business and his teaching courses. Over and over, I have heard other top photographers referring to Roberto. Cudos to Roberto, for being the go to Pros,' Pro. Roberto is a great teacher and a great photographer that takes beautiful pictures with mastery of beautiful light, posing and composition.


Roberto is a photography mastermind. I'm very grateful for his CL courses that are available. He shares so much during these courses, I cannot help but making many, many, many notes and I'm sure if I rewatch it, I'll still learn new stuff. This course is not only for the wedding photographer, but the information he shares is applicable for all kinds of photography. If you want to learn how to make use of the gifts of any location (while throwing some very helpful posing advice in the mix), this course is for you. I'd also highly recommend his course "Location, posing, execution", which I saw before buying this one. And besides his very inspiring teaching style, he's also very funny! This course is a joy to watch.


Absolutely amazing. Roberto's background as a classroom teacher (and crazy OCD perfectionist) is a true gift to us, the students. He has analyzed, practiced, and tried/failed his techniques countless times and it shows in this course. I have become so much more aware of an environment's "gifts" after taking this course. I myself was a science teacher (and am also a goofball) so his style of teaching resonates with me. While some workshops are amazing at making us feel inspired and fantastic, these are short lived emotions. Roberto's preaching of get out there and practice is a no-brainer!! Best course to get me started on my wedding photography career! Thank you Roberto!

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