Skip to main content

photo & video

Crazy Stupid Light

Lesson 6 of 12

"Sandwich Lighting" Technique

Scott Robert Lim

Crazy Stupid Light

Scott Robert Lim

staff favorite photo & video

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

6. "Sandwich Lighting" Technique

Lesson Info

"Sandwich Lighting" Technique

Okay how did light anything and this is what I call I've kind of developed this ah term the sandwich technique ok a systematic approach to lighting and I'll explain a little bit about what that okay? So my philosophical approach to create light that has impacted wow sandwich the subject with light so depth and a lit or interesting background and what do I mean by sandwich? Right well we all know what a sandwiches so you have subject and you are just sandwiching them with light you know there's different ways to do it there's clamshell front back room to sidelights whatever you just sound instead of getting into all this technical mumble jumble about it well the rim like ticker lied main whatever right just didn't forget all those terms and just think of sandwiching your subject with light okay and sandwich them together and with that um what you try to do is show some depth in your photo and what depth does it gives the viewer ah place or a setting and it tells a little bit more of the...

story. For example, if I were teo uh let's say this was just a completely white background and you're going to take a picture of me against this white background damp you take it you see me but does it really really tell a story of where I'm at or what I'm doing now, for example let's say you take a picture of me here cameras over here and taking a picture of me and you guys in the background you smile that now has depth we're allowing mohr elements into the photo and it's creating a setting a story uh your environment of where that photo is so that's what I mean by death and then if you actually uh that that part that is behind the subject the background I actually like that lit where I says lit or interesting back on the reason is this is because I like to create highlights and shadow on my subject so if my background has highlights and shadows on it it's the light is going toe look believable it's going to look interesting esso I like to continue that theme across the entire photo so that's why I like it lit if it's not lit uh try to find an interesting background like it could be the elevator, right? Um just depends and so if you kind of look at this photo, it kind of has all those elements to it right where I am using this sun to light her up on the back I'm filling it in with flash here and it's it's basically my same pose again but it's on the ground right? I don't do anything different on I've got that shadow here and highlight shadow and highlight on her dress because I'm using off camera flash and I'm overpowering the sun here because typically if you were to take this picture without the flash she would be in complete shade and it would look entirely flat but what I'm doing is I'm creating the highlights and shadows on her my kind of my signature look but then you look at the background and you look at the clouds don't they have highlights and shadow in it also? And so it matches so it makes it believable find subject and separates the sandwich lighting and it gives a sense of location and place when you have the depth and the lit background you match highlights and creates believability interesting background also gives you that wow factor and that's why a lot of times you go to exotic locations uh because it has that wow factor to it here's another situation downtown los angeles and I'm kind of doing the same thing here doing giveth thee settings on that no okay that's the same examples where I put one umbrella on them I put a flash behind them to give me some ej lighting and then what do I do with the background? I make sure uh that the background is there now I think I held this shutter speed for about a second or so because I wanted that background lights in there so I set my background first is that remembers that's how we do that so I established my background first and I go well let's see to get those lights I've got to go down and drop my shutter down a lot and I don't care if it's blurry back there at least my subjects will be sharp because they were in darkness you get it and so when the flash fired on them kid tighten them up just like that uh and then but I was still able to capture the background with my shutter speed same thing here but this uses a doorway okay uh sandwiching my subject with light but making that background interesting because I put a color gel on it and that's what we're part of your final exam a little bit later we're going to be doing that somebody's gonna have to take their shirt off neil roberts you guys been working out russ volunteered to so he said that any time scott a time say the word same thing we talked about this this particular photo it's my reception lighting sandwich thing interesting background here we sew some depth the place of what there a sense of where you're at on you've got you know, light coming in from behind he have light on her this way um shooting it landscapes so you can allow more of the environment into the photo well, we've looked at this photo before what gives this photo the depth the rain right makes it interesting texture with that. Okay, so would how do you start with ease like I mean, I actually kind of went overboard on you because I'm like teaching you how to do seven lights that once all the time but really that mean if you would have learned photography uh that's really not the right approach and I think the first thing is to learn available light and learn how to find it where is the best available light and learn how to find it and that is one light source that's the very first step to use us one available and maybe you add a second okay? And this is really where I live during wedding day because available light is the fastest and uh and a lot of times it's great quality light because it's coming through a window or whatever it looks great and then I just had a little kicker just add a little flash or at a little video light just to get that edge light in there and separate my work a little bit and I use this a lot during wedding day and that's what I call the sandwich salvaging the light learned how to create after that then you gotta learn how to create bull sources this is the hardest step, but I made you guys do that the first day so don't feel overwhelmed with that but you guys did a great job with it and you're going to prove it to me when we go over there and take your exam uh you're gonna do awesome so that's actually the last step and people are really fearful of this because that seems very daunting to them being able to create their light but hopefully by the end of this week ah you won't be so scared of doing that and then the fourth thing is adding the depth and the lip blip or interesting background that's kind of like the special sauce that's the topping on the cake right okay those are the four ah kind of steps that a person needs to take okay well let's talk let's go back how do we maximize one light source? Okay, that's all we want to do is find one light source ok how to find available light look for catch lights okay when you're walking around target or the airport wherever you're walking look for people and see if they have catch lights in their eyes and if they do figure out where that light is coming from you will learn so much that way you must be a student of light at all times I was a fanatic about it everywhere I was good looking available light uh you know wow she's got catch lights where's that come oh I didn't realize that that's reflecting off the floor right there and then I get clues of where this light is and then I start to understand light and then you start to become a master at it and you can find it in little nooks and crannies and it's just there it's like hidden nuggets of gold is like like they're like there and you start really feeling good about yourself because you feel like if I go into any situation, I'm going to find a good place and that's what cash lights are those little highlight areas in the eyes and they also reveal where the source light is. So if you look at fashion magazines and you want to kind of study what was the lighting, you could actually look at those catch lights if they haven't been altered in photo shop and then go oh, wow, that light was actually above her, and I didn't know they had a reflected light under her cause I see to catch lights in her eyes so you can start to study lighting by looking at catch lights, and then you can figure out where that light sources and I used to do that a lot too method one okay directed or channeled light passing from a large source to a narrow space that will could create, directed, diffused or filtered light, for example, like from a window archway tunnel hallway between two wells, etcetera now uh this was in paris ah and I rented out this match and for us to shoot in and by the way that's uh sabrina that was the time that they went and did that awesome session that you just saw previously and uh at every workshop she like hey scott photograph means like okay, we'll go and take photos but she liked to that because that was a really good learning process for her on what the subject was feeling while you're photographing them and seeing how I manage them turn their head and all that kind of stuff so it's actually really good as photographers to be photographed and so when you tell your subject to do the walk away pose and you're holding it for like one minute and you're starting to get tired then you realize what you were putting your subject through and it makes it clear as day and so that's one of the big boo boos of guys because guys never have to do what they actually want their models to do special females models to do and so sometimes ah lot we as guys we really stretched our our clients and make them really work hard for us. Well, you could do that for a while but what happens during the session when you're making them work too hard then they start to get fatigued and tired and then they don't start they start toe perform at a lower level for you and then you can't get that imagery so that's why I always like to be fresh moving don't stay stagnant keep moving it along anyways I keep talking about posing with this lighting sorry okay uh right okay so this is the situation I'm talking about this is creating beautiful light because they sunlight is being narrowed down into these windows and it's creating a huge soft box and giving her beautiful natural life so that's great natural light well, how did that get that edge on her arm and all that kind of stuff what do you think I did? I had another flash that way. Okay, but anyway we were just talking about one light right now uh and that's how I did that then so let's see a dad ground so look at this photo see the beautiful catch lights in her eyes this is a natural light. What was the situation here? Well, the sun was coming a large source being narrowed down into a little walkway and creating this directed light which gives you beautiful uh light on your subject and then you can place your subject by distance to get the nice quality of light that you want and and you just move it to that sweet spot where you like that light you understand that funneled from a larger too narrow weaken show some more examples here's another photo of uh a shot that we took and this was also in that mansion and with the situation with this wass the light was coming in from this outside area was reflecting on this wall and then coming back at them it was very, very, very dark in there but the quality of light was great because I could see catch lights in her eyes so this was basically, uh, taken with and what I always have in my bag I always have a low light leads in this particular case I had one of those cheap hundred dollar fifty millimeter, one point eight lenses I just have it in my bag just in case I'm in a little light situation like this I put it in, pull it out, put it at one point eight turn your eyes so up and then you're able to do this shot and so I always wanted to do this kind of dark ki kind of photo and s so actually there's a two students, so I asked them, hey, would you guys post for me? And so I had them do this and I created this photo and what I did was used them as natural light and then that little flashlight and they're added that sandwich aspect to it, but the main light was from available light, but it was very dark is very, very dark but I saw the catch lights in the eyes, so I knew the quality of light was very good. It's not the quantity, but the quality really quick question sure got on that one to clarify now. Was that an actual flashlight? Or was that light from a flash behind? I think it was actually flashlight is just like, what do we got around there's? A last use that that's good. I mean, some people I know you know, I didn't even develop my video heights back then, and I'm not sure led video lights at that time were very prominent. I think they were super super expensive at that time. I think at that time there were seven hundred or eight hundred dollars to get a video light, so just use flashlights. Whatever. I know its light is light. Okay, look at this situation here in this particular case that the hat kind of access separation like, but what I did was this it was like in a conference room and the the light was coming from outside, but I wanted to create a strip box. So what I did was, like, close the curtains down so I could get a narrow strip of light to come out of that curtain and then do some split lighting on her. I do that a lot in weddings because when the brightest getting ready in her hotel room they usually have that sliding door and a lot of times all just the light by pulling the curtain or opening it to get what I want or or this way and sometimes I could create a little strip light by just pulling that light together and that's my soft box because it's a large light source coming down into a narrow source and it's giving you nice directed soft light you can use that closed the curtains too narrow the light source and create a strip box again if you have questions feel free ok, here is light from an archway over an overhang another thing that I like to look for our overhangs or uh archways on this particular case this was in korea this is the lovely bride shot in the elevator but we did an engagement session the day before uh and we found some nice like you can tell that the light is nice because look at the pillars right? So if you could look at that and go wow, there are some nice soft directed light on those pillars because I see nice areas of shadow and highlight and so their noses pointed towards where the light um and that way I could get some nice shadow on the arm and so forth posing a different heights so how this works is a lot of times you'll get this light coming down and then it reflects back at your subject now this particular place how we were able to take this photo was great because what happens there's actually tons of people around there but it started raining and everybody left and oh, this is perfect the place is ours so it was overcast so there wasn't a lot of strong light in there it was just some nice to fuse like but if you don't get that what what you could do is you can use the ground is a reflector and so you see the sun and it reflects down and it creates a shadow on the ground okay, you place your subject just out in that shadow area and you use the ground as a reflector and a lot of times you get some nice beautiful up light in over hank's using this technique here. Scott yes quick question do you from zoe b one do you ever use actual reflectors? We didn't see you talking about those yesterday and people write um not really uh I used to earlier in my career um I would actually use a diffuser mohr than a reflector because sometimes when there was really really harsh light and I couldn't find anything I would just have my assistant hold the diffuser out and I would get some soft light but sometimes very I mean, sometimes if we have them available I do but in general, uh a lot of times I use video light for that up light if I need it I'll just turn a video light on because it's easier because I can't always depend on the sun showing up to use the reflector and another thing that I do in emergency because I don't have an umbrella I mean I don't have a reflector is I use my umbrellas my white shoot through umbrella so that acts as a reflector and a visa at the same time so I'll do that I'll open them up, I'll put them on the ground and then I'll use them as a reflector for nice up light or I'll have the subject and I'll just point it right at their face so when it comes to light I'm a little bit of a magog I've er and I just kind of okay what do I got here and let's get something to work and I guess that's the fun part of photography uh is that we can do that kind of stuff you know, reflector could be a white piece of paper it could be a white towel or it could be whatever it could be a mirror um and so we just need the concepts down and then usually we can figure out how to do it but good question so on this particular image seeking is wondering so when you're using a natural light and then one light source is that what you mean by one light source? Like was there another light source that was used in the not in this particular photo um just just the the ambient light behind them and then the reflection off the ground yeah, yeah so that's what's giving him this look thank you in this particular case so you see the beautiful cash lights in his eyes uh this was kind of stumbled by accident he went actually to go before we're doing the session. He went into his room to get his jacket and then he was walking back out at me in the hallway and I looked at his eyes go oh, man there's some good light in here and I go, let me take you let me take your portion right here in the hallway. So what I usually do is when I'm taking a portrait of somebody I always like to shoot down on my subjects because I think it looks a bit more pleasing when I'm shooting slightly down on my subject, so I'm short obviously, um and so what I do a lot of times is I haven't sit down because so far uh there has been nobody sitting down that has been taller than may sell hey thank god for that so I get them down on the ground and I see those beautiful cash lights and damn I took a picture on them but in this situation here this is what was happened it was a huge he had a beautiful apartment in manhattan and uh he had this light coming in so would come in this way this big light here and then it would filter back into this hallway and that's how he got that beautiful cash lights in that in his eyes um this was a church again and I saw that nice light coming in from the side and I was in the hallway where did I point his nose towards the light I'm always pointing his nose in my hat not having him lean on something right he's a guy lean on something okay lean against that look over their cross your legs put your hand in pocket okay looked over it down take the shot and in this particular situation there was a huge window here and it was allowing some light to filter in through this little hallway here and then my camera was here shooting the photo and I had his nose point towards light um here's another interesting background ah we were doing a session with angela johnson I'm not sure if you know who she is she's a comedian she's very famous she got popular on youtube because she did this ah vietnamese nail yeah it's like huge now so this is right I mean, so I photographed her before she became really famous er and so anyways we did this session and we're driving around parking the car and go wow, I like that red background stop I mean let's just just take a picture there and s o basically what it is is the light is filtering and through the park and garage but kind of put her nose towards the light body away ah, I took the photo was interesting red background here uh this was a workshop in china and we were we were in shanghai here and I love that door and how that light I was coming in through that door it was kind of overcast so it was soft light this door is acting like a huge soft box because it's a large light coming into a narrow area and giving you some nice worser nose pointing towards the light the body is away from the light because if I face her body away from the light you see the shadow that I get here which despina is her shape see the shadow on her arm which just defines the shape to see the shadow on her cheek here which defines the shape of her face and she was a very pretty girl but she had she wasn't that model s super thin face model but she or her face is a little bit wider. So it was important for me to get shadow on her cheek to defined her face structure. Scott is fantastic. I just want to let you know king's photo says I love this presentation. I feel like I'm learning more by seeing it and hearing his house and wise so thank you. All right, there really loving how this is going. Oh, nice. Okay, now, lookit. What? Posing by doing the same darn freaking one except she's leaning on something don't ever change in that. This is my go to pose it's something that you can when you master this pose could not okay, I could I could take this shot here. Looks beautiful. I could have her look at the camera and I can shoot her there right there to get two shots in one day. If you this was my one go to pose that went in doubt. Where's the light coming knows towards the light body away pop the hip lean on something. You're gonna have something, you're gonna definitely have some nothing. And so when all chaos is breaking loose on that wedding day and the mother in law screaming at you or whatever, you can always go to this post and it will work, say, bang holy cow he's leaning on something his faces towards the light but it's interesting it's in venice he got this beautiful room that we're shooting in I wanted to get one photo of him uh and he he actually didn't want any photos. Truth? He just wanted me to take pictures of his life, but I actually took some photos of him because he thought that he looked terrible in photos because in some, nobody has ever taken a good photo of him. And so I showed him I just did the simple photos and I showed it to him. He thought it was like the best photographer in the world because I just, you know, did some basic portraiture and those were absolutely the best photos he's ever seen of himself hey raised and me up like, way up there when I was just doing basic portraiture that's gonna happen to you and have been happening to you is that when you make people beautiful and use your basic techniques, that will be the best photo that they've ever seen of themselves. That's why it's so important to learn these basic things where their nose pointing towards the light and so you're in a situation, you know, that one concept it just kind of helps you with the poles because you know that some way in my mind I'm featuring her her nose is going to be towards the light and her body is going to be away from it so I could see her shape and I get could get some shadow and highlight and so I know okay well she's gonna basically do that because their nose is going to be that way I gotta turn your body slightly away from that and we're throwing the dude in like personally right he's just adding him right there xu poses it it it just does it by itself by using that one principle you can have a workflow with whatever situation you're in here's another great photo oh, this is a great story uh this was we just landed and ah bunch of us landed from the united states and this is in severe spain and I'm doing a workshop in spain and we go to this little towns of viet we go this place is cool it's two a m in the morning but were so amped and excited to be here in severe way we can't stay in a room let's go around shooter out and have fun and so well here's one of the students I saw this tunnel I was demonstrating light through a tunnel go hey this is perfect okay lookit I got depth I got background shows interesting you stand over there put your face over there and look at it and then I took the shot I love this shot because actually this represented him at that time, because he was going through a little funk in his life, he couldn't decide between quitting his regular job and going into full time photography and his life was just in a turmoil. And so to me, I think like, wow, this workshop changed his life and he's looking into his new future. You know why? Because at that workshop he found his wife. She was from the uk. She also came to my workshop and words up. They fell in love and now they're happily married and they've got a dog. I hope they're watching right now. Uh, okay. Use available light that has a narrow beam. I used this technique in low light areas. And so when I'm in a low light area what this was this was actually in chinatown in victoria, canada. And you see this all the time when you go into little hallways, their buildings, they have those candle lights and it's like a trach light that comes down, and so you can use that light. And so where do I put her nose towards delight? What is she doing? The walkaway posts okay, so she's nose and say the lights here knows towards the light. Popping down here and then maybe she's doing a little curtsy or a maid or do this or something like that what I make her do uh do your I don't know it's something like that okay basic pose but I mean if I didn't bring this up you would think that all these these photos are posed differently when you you have no idea until I tell you and like oh that's all scott does that's so basic yes what my pride I have no idea it's probably I s o eight hundred or above um at that time I shot that photo I think I was using a five d mark one and so I don't think I like google above sixteen hundred so I probably pushed it at eight hundred and see what I could get I was probably using my favorite lands at the time was a twenty four one oh five so it probably was f or I'm just guessing um on that situation when you're shooting available you gotta keep your center speed up because you're going to get shake right? So I'm usually probably above fiftieth of a second sometimes I can go down to fifteenth of a second but that's like I'll have to take a bunch of photos just to make sure one's type now in this particular situation I'm doing a little engagement session in their apartment and I noticed that they liked lighting a lot they had a lot of candles in their in their apartment, so go hey, let's, turn off all the lights. Let's, get these candles together and let's, create this one light source here, have it come up and use that. I used the outdoor windows closed to shade so I get that strip a light on his head. But that was just the window and me pulling the curtain across so I could get that edge right there. Hear it again is, uh we were coming out. This was I was shooting the bride. Getting ready shots were coming out is she was in this kind of boutique hotel which was kind of cool in san jose what's that cool downtown area in san jose? I forgot what it is. What it was there's, a motel in there and I saw this cool pattern on the wall with one of those can lights all that's cool. I like that lighting. So what did I do? Where's the nose pointing towards light body away you get the shadow here I made her do an expression lean against something you can rip it off in one minute it's just a simple shot there it is. Get it waiting for you. This is interesting too is that you confined light that was used for large works of art in fact, this is a good way for you to determine whether ah hotel is a four star hotel or a three star hotel the four star hotels have their artwork lit whereas a three horse three star hotel don't is there um but anyway so they were were a pretty nice place and I actually just used that light from above and pose them there I got down I remember specifically lack was yesterday even that was years ago I had them go by that light I got down on my knee I think I had to hold it for a slower shutter so I braced myself on the ground like this and I think I shot it like this holding it see how everything is supported here and I think I dropped it to like a fifteenth of a second and I just ripped a bunch of shots make sure I got one that was tight when shooting a headshot and the light is from above what I did, what I what I my one rule is what knows towards the what light okay, so let's say the light was coming from here, okay? And I'm going to shoot this gentleman on doing a portrait shot of him knows towards the light okay he's taller than me, so if I'm taking a picture of him right here I'm shooting straight up his nostrils and that doesn't look cool so how do we solve that problem? Well you get them lower than you okay so you're standing up there lower than you they're looking at the light their noses towards the light but they're looking at you that's that shot right there interesting background I got his buddies behind there ah you know and you know he got these cuban cigars or whatever and there are you know, going light him up and celebrate his wedding and uh that's photo but you can see from the catch lights it was from above knows towards the light I get that shadow short side shadow that defines his face uh take the photo now this was interesting this is actually just from a reading light they had a couch okay they had a reading light right here so I posed her nose towards the what light and then he's parsley so I had him come down and straddle her to get this shot. Now the cool thing about this was the registration for the hotel was literally five feet next to them so he's, I'm doing this shot he's like straddling her like this and what people are checking in walking by hojo that's interesting so what I'm trying to say is that light could be in just anywhere just use it you find it oh there's a reading lamp right there I could do a shot right there is giving me some light it's directed it's kind of dark in there as giving me some directed light right there if I get that no somewhere towards the light then I can figure everything else out here was the china workshop again these air actually like two friends and they were actually students of the workshop and what usually happens at the workshop is that all week were gone and shooting beautiful models and then the ladies in the class started getting jealous thing going man shooting all these beautiful photos I need some good shots of myself and so then we at the end of the workshop we start shooting ourselves and so anyways this was halloween in china they get all made up and they came down and go oh my gosh you guys look amazing right and we've got to take some photos and so we got into the pool room and there was one light source here from above so where did I positioned them I positioned them where their background was lit and interesting that red curtain there so I play purposely placed them there they happen to be at the corner which I love using corners and then I created a situation I said okay you know what you linda lean down and pretend that you're shooting there your will your cue stick they want you lean over and pretend you're telling her a secret and so that's what I entitled that photo called the secret so you get the light right? You know what you're going to do and then because you know all your technical you could get the creative and you could start thinking about your vision, your story, your emotion but you have to be ableto find this light no where to go like it's the back of your hand so you can get to that creative aspect to it here's like from the doorway it's a very simple set up uh opened up the door sometimes and you can take a shot so if you see a door that leads outside open it up you always got good light that's the one thing that you could go to just look for a door that's going to give you good light coming out of there here's the more french doors just open up this from my very first workshop in paris and they had these big french stores like okay, just open it up, sit right there got beautiful light coming in take the shot um from light from a highway overpass or bridge see the beautiful catch lights but this was actually like a no overpass and I just stuck her in there ah and that light came in from that overpass and gave me those beautiful cash lights and took the photo okay creating one light source and this is ah using video light I like using that a lot and so this is finding one available light and then using a video light as a kicker or a rim light so I'm using the same method but I'm just adding a second one by using video light and I do this a lot or or using video like myself this was actually this is not a great photo but this photo was special to me because this is the first time in my life I felt like I was in control of the situation so situation was this she was getting married in the basement of the church they had those there was no windows there's that funky full restaurant lighting all across the room okay all chaos in there and I'm trying to get you know my signature saw shot is one at one profile picture of her by herself and I needed to get this what's running late as usual and the church ladies screaming it was like we need to get out of here we you know, we got to start on time and I I didn't get my shot let yet and I was so proud of myself because I says my first time in my life I stood up to the church lady on I said church lady I don't know what her name was this I could listen the wedding and going to start without her and all I need is can I just get a few minutes here I I need to get one shot of her all all I want is that can we just hold off? Okay, I'll give you one minute okay? So I got what I got I got one minute I got this funky fluorescent lighting I go there's no drama here what am I gonna do here? So the first time in my life I used the eliminate all the ambient light rule but I did it with natural light I said close off all the lights turn them off so it's it's dark in there and then I just said and then I told my sister okay turned the video light on just one light and that's and then I could create the drama so that was the first time I created drama and I eliminate I use of that principle of eliminating all the ambient light what did I do? Body away face sorts delight look over there bam shooting okay, just lady done let's go so it's not a particularly great photo but to me it meant a lot because to me it says, hey, I'm learning how to be in control of this situation and creating the drama anywhere so that's what I did okay here jane thing turn off all the lights and took a photo right when video light and this was a very, very I learned a lot from this experience here because she had this awesome idea of taking this video taking this shot in the bathtub which I thought was really cool it's like okay let's take this shot in the bathroom so if he gets in the bath tub ago okay this is you know when you went uh this is like has a very kind of sensual feel to it right? So won't you pull up your dress a little bit and that's kind of you know I think you look cool so she goes and she pulls up her address right to her ankles I go no no no no no I lied a little bit higher because you know you're very sexy and like I like this and then okay sai d a little higher you know and then she pulls it up to her calf go no no no and I like I need it like above your knee and then she says I can't do that and what she wass is that she wasn't feeling confident enough she didn't maybe feel see herself as sexy but but she told me that she wanted this shot in the bathtub I go you know what I think you told me to do this shot because I think you wanted just one shot of yourself looking very sensual and sexy I'm gonna allow you to go there, okay it's okay skills yeah, you're right and so she did it she pulled up the dress and she took the photo and what I realized is sometimes your clients can't tell you what they really want inside but you have to be in tune to that you have to understand why people hire you and on my site there are a lot of beautiful sexy women all the types so in my mind I know why she hired me it's because I know she wants this to write and so I allowed her to go there and so it was a very good learning experience on me it was the first time I was allowing ah client to see a different side of beauty that she's never seen in herself and that's the joy of being photographer that's that's you know what we live for is showing different shades of beauty to your subject here's another situation here where she's in the car on this is what I called feathering the light so I'm using a video light and when the when my assistant was shining light into her it was spilling all over her dress here but I wanted that kind of glamour feel so what I did was I had the assistant used the ej the bottom of the light so you would have more shadow down here and just light her face for that more of that glamour field and so you can control your lights simply by just turning it and using the edge of the light and actually the edge of the light is a lot softer than the middle of the light you could also do that with your flash too you know the girl uh in the hawaii with thea that's what I did I at first I had it shines straight at her but then it looked too hard so I had the assistant roll up the flash so I could use the bottom so could look softer so you can control your life that way here's just enough camera flash at nighttime here's another off camera flash that's uh during the day another one during the day creating one light source okay there's one rule that I want you to understand it's called the big light rule when you are shooting yourself if the camera is right in front of your subject okay and you need to put have this light if the light source is in front of the subject here this has to be big beautiful light or else it's not going to look good for example if I had a little point and shoot camera and I just take a picture of you what how did those photos look? They look okay I mean it's documentation or whatever right but a lot of times they looked terrible because it's a small light source and it's in front of the subject so the more you get this light in front of the subject, the bigger and the and the better the light source is for example, look at our setting here they're lighting me from the front and where they're using big panels to get get big, beautiful soft light on me so the more the light is in front of your subject more bigger you want to get it and that it's gonna look a lot better. You know what taught me this too was when you look at television news broadcasts and I I actually look at the cash lights in their eyes and I could see well, they're using some big nice florescent huge lights up there and so one way to do it is what we talked about. This is an umbrella, right? And so there it is that particular light and you can also use that in group shots I love doing this with group shot, so I don't know anybody had done asian weddings here they always require you to go to the eight hundred tables and take a group shot of everything you'll daemul and so how I worked that workflow is what I do is I take one half of the table and I make them stand behind the other half and then I have my assistant with the umbrella following me and I take a photo and I lock in whatever that exposure's going to be that looks right and when I go to the next table that this isn't the distance exactly the same as a last shot because the table is your reference so when that when your assistant stands in the exact same place that light is going to be consistent every single time and then if it's lighter or darker you can adjust your f stop without talking to your assistant to dial in that correct light on your subject now the reason why I love to use manual during group shots is that when I was in tt l mode my photos were always dark why do you think that wass? Not all the time but most of the time what happened was a lot was thie camera was meet oring the white tablecloth what were my client's wearing subjects mostly dark so my camera was meet a ring to make sure that the highlights on the table we're not being blown out and it always made everything dark and so that's why when I do table shots now I go to manual because now I can override that and I control the lighting and that's the same that's true in a group shot now here she's not wearing all white but usually when you take group shots and this is my situation when I took a group shot I would focus on who I would focus on the bride what is the bride wearing what? Usually? And what of the guests wearing black? So the camera would meet her, the white you would shoot the picture and everything would look dark all the time. In the beginning of my career, I just thought I didn't have a strong enough flash. So I started bringing in bigger and better flashes, and I would still get the same result eagle what's going under. Maybe I need to buy some big old studio lights because I'm not doing it. And then somebody turned be honest. Ah, you should shoot in manual. Really? Oh, okay. I've never done that before. So the next time I go out with my flash and the same thing happens and I put it in manual and I stick it on all, just stick it on half power and boom, I shot the photo and everything was blown out. And at that point, I realized, wow, my flash is really, really strong. It was just my camera turning it down. This flash has plenty of power, but the camera was clamping down on it because it was meet a ring for the white dress all the time. And so that's when I started using manual for the group shots so that's, what I highly recommend when you're shooting a wedding, um, suit in manual because then you can meet her it a lot easier okay, there it is umbrellas perfect for close up portrait's or images were skin is a large percentage of the frame when you're shooting and skin is a large percentage of the frame you want to get that light soft because that light needs to look soft on the skin this is the sandwich lighting technique okay? And we kind of went over this is where you're finding actually to allay level light sources to create the sandwich and you can always do that in the limo in weddings or in the car. Now sometimes when you're shooting uh a bride and it's bright sun and you don't know where to go and maybe you don't even have your flashes you could always get them inside a car because it's going to create two sidelights for you immediately all the time. Okay? And so what did I do here? We're driving along where are their nose pointing towards? So this this and then I wanted to focus her before, so I just moved her up a little bit closer he wasn't behind it posed itself because I was just going by my lighting principle here's another situation here where I had to light sources I didn't create this there was a beam light a little can light coming down and there was a lamp here but thiss lamp was red but I just need light so what I did was I turned my camera to black and white to see what it would look like so I shot in black and right I used this red light to come over worse a nose pointing towards the light and had this down I took the photo now people walking by it looked like she was a demon possessed or something because he had just red light but on my camera it was just light light is just light so sometimes you gotta turn it to black and white that's fine that's colored light here's another case where light was coming back through the window it was hitting a mere and coming back at her so I positioned her blind by the window and the mir so I could get a sandwich lighting using two available um lights here's another case where I've got to available lights where this was in a barn or it used to be a barn and so this light from the opening was coming this way there was actually a window here but I photoshopped it out as you can see my photo shop is not right back good because you can see this area's kind of screwed up I still want to award out of it I think I got I think I got eighty five out of it yourself that's like a black ribbon let's go but anyways uh there's that edge light there see? Because that's coming from the window that's there but I just covered up it actually looked like that okay, so there was window light I'm using two available sources the noses towards the light it's the archway that's open you can see the light was reflecting off the ground and coming up at her and then that other window coming this way giving now I had to move that bench in the right place but I could see those two lights coming into play and I didn't need to set up anything I just used what was available to me and I got two shots out of it see she's doing this I said oh yeah pretend like you're putting your shoes on or something and then I go okay now look towards the light look over there came in close I took it she's not she hasn't moved one inch she just turned her head down two shots okay same thing two available light sources one this way in the archway this way in the back I love the outline of this guy and partner so I just had him stand there it's like get a silhouette of it but that's just too available light sources this here is a light source from above but I used her bouquet as a reflector to give me light on her face macgyver be macgyver, what dough I got I got one light from up there and I go got a bouquet of flowers. Oh, okay, but the light behind used a bouquet of flowers to reflect bam. There it isthe be on your toes. Think of your available situation and you can make it happen with anything around here's some bay windows getting some nice light that's kind of self evident. Okay, uh, creating more than one light source. This is kind of export love when you could get to this point and we'll do this. This is what we're going to kind of be doing in the video light session. Kind of creating this glamour look here. And I did this a little bit differently where I used to video lights here but one of the video lights while I took a piece of cardboard and I cut holes in it. And then I just signed a video light through it, and I signed it on her to just kind of get amore pattern feel on her. And then I took a snoot on a flash to narrow the light across here so I could get that shadow there behind here's two lights here one flash on her one flash behind, lighting the background up and I gel them both cto jail now whenyou jails my rule on jelling skin okay what looks really good is if you put a cto gel or aa which is means color temperature orange if you use that on a dark skin person it looks awesome if you look use it on a fair skin person it looks very yucky because they look orange but when you have a dark skinned person one of the things that I love to do is I love to put orange jell o on them for some reason it looks good to me I don't know why but it does so I got a orange gel there and orange hair there and has this kind of feel that I like so a lot of times I'm using jail's not to correct a color but to give me a color flavor that I liked some a little bit not that I'm not whole hung up on getting the correct white balance I'm hung up on getting the feel that I want to see t o j lt's ok we talked about this one two flashes in the background creating a silhouette now this photo is pretty different okay so what I did here was I really loved uh this bar scene we were in san francisco chinatown doing a session if you saw the creative like promo video you'll see me uh shooting this shot anyways so how do you think I did this shot? I take a guess on this how many flashes or what I used? Uh did you big bear big boy bar yeah no okay, so what I did was I put a flash here is you can see with the red gel on it and I put a flash on the other side with a red gel on it and I pointed it at them and behind so I could light up the ceiling red too so I got to read jails on them okay so when I fired those flashes which lead cool the only problem was it actually made their faces read too which was not cool so how did I solve that problem? I didn't have another flash but I did have a video light so I shined a video light on their face to get rid of the red and then two flashes on the side to give that red glow and to light up the ceiling at the same time yes I achieved at photo okay video light is maine to strobes in the side with red gels here's a situation here where I love using corners for composition because the corner just draws your eye into the subject so whenever I see a corner I get excited I'm going to use that corner somewhere and put that subject there so I put her there and I've got two sidelights on the side and I just meet her for the background easy peasy this is actually where I discovered the one shot principle because that was the first time I I said okay, students I'm gonna do this in one shot oh, really? Whoa, no, you can't do that and demonstrated it there here's a shot where I jailed the background read here I metered for this sign and then I brought in an umbrella light on her okay, so I'm metered for the sign use the red gel toe light up that background red so that was red behind her and then I let her with an umbrella wait talked about that photo okay um so this is near the end of it uh one this is how you developed your light skills is one you gotta learn how to find available light one light source be a master at that to use one available and add a second learn howto use the available and usually could use via light. Sometimes you got to use flash or whatever and then that's the sandwich that sandwiching a person there's different ways to do that sandwich ah learned how to create two light sources that's really the final frontier orm or when you could do that and then add that depth and look for that lip background um and that that's really my signature style so you can go back look at my portfolio and you can see all those principles come in tow play and that's really how I do it grant tastic while we still have a little bit of time good which is great because that was such a jam packed session and just loving it all of those examples and hearing those wise and of course I love the name sandwich so let's start with by chance who asks? Is it okay to have two shadows on the wall? Uh thank you for using multiple lights that from from different directions and cause multiple shadow yeah, why not? Especially if you're doing a kind of ah glamour shot uh that's that's style that style is everything is ill talk about a little bit when I talk about video light, but that particular style is all about mystery. What creates mystery mystery shadow creates mystery and so if you look at those photos, you know those hollywood glamour shots back in the twenties or whatever they always their shadow everywhere there's shadow on the subject there's shadow in the background and it creates that very mysterious look about it and so if you're going for that look definitely two shadows back there. I think it looks great it's fantastic to have any questions here in the audience we don't we could keep going here, veronica esqueda says many times I don't think I can see the light and how it bounces off my subject any recommendations on how to improve that you're going to see the light um well again go by the catch lights um and if there's catch lights in their eyes that's the easiest way to determine if you're in a good location on what some people do which is a kind of a cool thing is some people actually where polarized plans this sunglasses and so when you were polarised sunglasses the the highlights and the shadows are more pronounced yeah you can see on plus you look cool walk around yeah yeah I could walk around to andy feel desire l a that's not gonna look cool but some people do that so they can see the contrast in light a little bit better and you can recognize things that way yeah that's really hopeful and then beats for thirty five had asked so you just mentioned looking for the catch lights but what about when you have the eyes closed? Is it still necessary necessary teo get catch light producing natural light and what about it's beyond this couch okay so the cash slides themselves don't have to be present all the time but that's an indicator of that you're in a good light area so the catch lights are an indicator but it's not a must for that photo and then the subject closed yeah, they could do whatever herman did bye seeing that it's progressed yeah tracy's he is wandering for a good catch light doesn't have to be at the ten or two positions in the uh it doesn't matter where the stones are if you ask me, I don't even care where that darn thing comes around as long as it looks good to you then use it and I think that is kind of some of our our hang ups with o our difficulties with this lighting because we've heard all these rules right of ten and two position this and ratios and we're trying to get all that in the mind, but I'm trying to tell you, you know what? Look at it differently throw all that stuff away I'm going to give you some basic principles to go off and then you determine whether or not you like ten into or maybe you might like three and eleven I don't know, so I've got three eleven oh my gosh uh, so it's really up to the photographer to express his creativity in my estimation, great, I think we've time for a couple more quick questions. Britney lin scott, you talked about using a cto gel for darker skin person what would you recommend for a fair skin person? I'm guessing a bluer tone, but what would you say? No, I just like natural, you know, just regular daylight and then I have if I have to tone the skin, I usually do that in post processing, I can add like a yellow tinge, cross everything. If I want teo do that a lot, if you look at my photos, I'm really into color, and I don't really like anything straight, white, balanced, always tinted a color, no matter and what it is, and that's it's, kind of that I think in the movies. They started to do that a lot in that movie, uh, matrix, when I say matrix, what do you think of color wise, green cast, right. So I was so happy when the matrix came out, because I was starting to do that in my post, processing just coloring tones across the way, and then there's another movie called avatar. What do you see? They're blue, right, and so that if you look at my photos, I'm always it's, not straight. Daylight it's, always some kind of tinted color on my photos and that's, kind of my style.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Learn how to find the best light available in this CreativeLive photography course with Scott Robert Lim. The award-winning portrait photographer will help you master simple photography lighting techniques by using available light and small portable strobes, you can create amazing images on location and almost anywhere within minutes.

Scott Robert shows you how to shoot in lighting environments from extreme bright sun to dim light and partial shade. This course also covers how to use lighting recipes to maximize your shooting time and capture a variety of stylized images. Finally, you will learn to pull off crazy "one-shot" images with Scott Robert's amazing off-camera lighting techniques.

Class Materials

bonus material

Crazy Stupid Light Slides

Master Flash Guide

bonus material


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I just finished this course today, and I'm so happy that I bought it! It's been on my wishlist for months, after watching it as a rebroadcast here on Creative Live. I absolutely LOVE Scott's approach to lighting. The way he explains how to light manually is so clear, and easy to understand; he also has a great sense of humor which takes the edge off of trying to get everything perfect the first time. I like how he encourages the class to just try new techniques, and if mistakes are made, that's okay, just adjust and keep moving. This has allowed me, as a perfectionist, to try his lighting formulas, with a lot of success. I'm so appreciative that as an instructor, he took the time to create a class that helps us as photographers to be more creative. Because of this course, I feel so much more confident as I experiment with light on my own, and then apply it to my work. I feel that I have all the tools that I need to create amazing images that really stand out. Thanks Creative Live for making this class available, it has changed how I shoot! =)

Jack C

This course is simply amazing, super good, and completely exceeds my original expectations! Scott is such a brilliant photographer and teacher. His way of teaching is of great fun, and he delivers the ideas so well. I learn really a lot from this. Thank you so much Scott! Creative Live is doing such a wonderful job!!


This is by far my most favourite course on Creativelive. It's inspiring, funny and most educational. I learned so much about flash and lighting and can't wait to practise all that I've learned. Scott is an enthusiastic teacher and his way of teaching just clicks with me. Highly entertaining! And it was fun to also get some posing, composition and other tips out of the workshop for variety. I 1000% recommend this course if you want to learn more about lighting in an inspiring way.