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Lighting Styles: Working with Soft, Medium and Hard Light

Lesson 2 of 6

Developing a Lighting Personality

Matthew Jordan Smith

Lighting Styles: Working with Soft, Medium and Hard Light

Matthew Jordan Smith

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Lesson Info

2. Developing a Lighting Personality


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:10:08
3 3 Types of Light Duration:14:32
4 Live Shoot: Soft Light Duration:07:48
5 Live Shoot: Medium Light Duration:25:11
6 Live Shoot: Hard Light Duration:13:49

Lesson Info

Developing a Lighting Personality

So we also have a live shoot today when we're going through those three main types of light a soft light, medium light and hard light. Now I first learned about this. It was eye opening to me when you think about light in those three categories. Soft, light, medium like and hard light. What fits into your style mawr when you have a consistent look based on the type of light you choose to look and keep that consistency throughout your career, people see that thumbprint and they start hiring you, requesting you they can't tell what that special thing is that you have, but they see it. They call you over and over and over again. We're also talking about how to develop a lighting style of your own, and we'll be doing some experimenting. Also shooting live today in studio with a beautiful model using different styles of light. So we have a lot to go over today. Wanna dive into your lining personality. So somebody in the live audience let me just ask a question. I'll start with you here. I p...

ut you on the spot, my dear, what's your favorite type of light off? Tell me. Why? Because my in my mind, my creative mind. I like softness and soft colors and pastel lights just like that kind of dreamy soft look or you on the right path already. That's great to hear, because when you think about soft light, that's exactly what it gives you. It's a soft feeling. Okay, today we have an overcast day in Manhattan. It's soft light, so look at all the colors of your walking on the street, and you seem to be walking down in great colors. Bright colors. It's not as bright. On a overcast day. There saw their muted, their romantic so soft like fits into that category. So think about now what you I feel like when it's an overcast day. Think about what you feel like when it's a bright, sunny day. And how does your targeting fit into those different categories? You have that control, how people feel when they see your images. I want you to think how you feel. The next time you're walking down the street on an overcast day, how do you feel? And then think about how your people feel when they see your work. This is a conscious decision that you must make to stand out from everybody else, and it's a big deal you're lighting. Personality is a way for you to make your photographs stand out from every body. Els. You're lighting personality or your lighting style. Think about that. I think about your type of photography, what you want people to feel when they see your work. It needs to be consistent now. I love photography, and I know you guys do, too. And we all get excited about using all these different types of light, and that's great to know how to use them. But you need to make a clear decision on what type of light you like. Now, by type, I don't mean the specific modifier, but the type of light. So under soft light, there are a lot of different types of modifiers that give you sought light there. Meantime, tough the modifiers that give you medium light and hard light. Find out what you like to do in terms of the lighting style soft, medium or hard. Now I love a certain time of day when I'm sure of natural light. Is that end of the day sunlight? That's a hard light source. How did you feel when you're shooting like that? They all look beautiful. Does it matter who they are? It could be me. At the end of the day, I look great. It's the light. Is that angle of light? The colors pop? People often ask me, Matthew, how do you get those those crisp, sharp images? It's the light. A big part of it is the type of light that I choose to use that gives me that color, that clarity, that shortness have you get that. You make a clear decision on what you want to use in terms of lighting style, and you stay consistent with that over and over and over again. Your thumbprint on every picture. People don't know what that special thing is that you have. They know that John's pictures look amazing. It's what a lot of pictures look fantastic because it's consistent. It doesn't matter where you on the world when you have a consistent feel based on the lighting, people see it and they request you over and over and over again. Now, when I'm shooting on location, I make sure that I'm spring time to make sure I have my images shot at the right time of day, and that's explaining for the shot. I spent almost a month planning, producing, going and scouting location, knowing where the sun was gonna be at a certain time of day. And then I set my entire shoot based on having my model here at that spot in the middle of Tokyo to get the light right there. That's explaining when I use my strolls the same thing I'm planning as well, where I want the light to be the type of life that I want for this shoot, I'm checking the weather, making sure that would be a cloudy day with sunny day or an overcast day. I want the sun because I want that crisp, sharp colors that that son gives me at that time of day, that sharp, direct light. This has to be a clear decision. It can't be an accident. So then when I go in studio, I do the same thing. I make my my artificial light, imitate what I'm doing outside in natural light. It's the same feeling. It's me imitating the sun. And to do that, I need to study the sun, which I'm doing all the time. I live close to the beach some boys on the beach in l A And I'm always looking sunset on also studying the sun studying how it changes throughout the day studying how the fusion from the clouds change My my heart light sources well and you could do the same thing. Study the sun You learn so much about light and how it works in all different kind of situations. And then take that Bring in studio into the same thing. You have that control. This is me in studio putting my life in a certain place to give me that feeling of sunlight. Natural light. We learned the lesson for studying the natural light, then taking it in studio and making my own feeling. Now this is a sit where create the entire floor, the walls, everything that sit. So I have my light set for this one time of day all day long This is me taking control of my life in placing it one place for the entire shoot. As we know, sunset lasts What 10 minutes is going in studio. I could have it last all they long is that quality of light, that angle of light is that feeling where they're doing portrait's or shooting Children photographing Children? It doesn't matter what you're doing. You have control over your life and how people will feel when they see your images. Think about this. How do you want them to feel? Maybe your style is happy and upbeat. Maybe it's soft and romantic. Maybe it's is, uh, moody and dark. You have control over all of this. Once you decide where you want to be, how you want to feel, you could make a clear decision on the type of light use where you use it, the angle, all of this and be consistent all the time. This is how you have a long Korean photography. It can't be an accident today. It's not enough just to take a pretty picture. Anybody can do that. You need a competitive advantage. Your light gives you that competitive advantage, and you've got to be clear on what you want to say. What you want your clients and future clients to feel. This past Monday again, I didn't all this Libya shoot with a surgical I've never shot before. I've always wanted Shoot her. And I'm like, Okay, maybe one day I'll shoot her. Who knows? But they called me. They requested me at the blue. I was so shocked. Like the call. They loved my lighting style. When I first met her on Monday, we met for the first time. She's like, Oh, I love your pictures. It feels so good. The hatch bowl. Recognize something that I've been sure what it is. They still they love your style For some reason, they want to hire you. Now think about this. How hard is it to go out there and find new clients every day versus having them find you and higher? You doing something that you love doing? But you got inside what you love, how you want people to feel when they see your images. And then you make a clear decision to stay with that style all your career. Think about that today. Right now. How do you want people to feel when they see your images? It's totally in your control. Think about that and make that clear decision. Maybe you want to have a lot of detail in your pictures. Maybe you want to be dark and moody. This is up to you. Let's talk about that for a second with light as well, because normally were taking pictures based on a meter. Reading in a meter gives us a normal reading. Maybe you don't want that normal reading back in the days of film. If I shoot film here before wow, a lot of you guys, you guys out here as well. You shot a lot of film, and when I was shooting film, I never shot it normal I could under expose it or overexpose. It gave me a different feel. You can still do that because the meter says this is the reading doesn't mean you have to shoot. That way you're lying. How that feeling you give. Maybe it's ah, half the under exposed because you want a feeling. It's a deeper, darker, moodier image. I'm so tied into this one show, and I love this show game of Thrones, and the reason why I love that show is because of the lighting, and you guys knows the lighting on the sense. It's a certain feeling. Everyone is a very consistent feeling season to season to season, and I'm always talking about that show and how they like every cent. It's a clear decision about the light and the time of day when every scene they have control of the light and where it goes and the feeling that it gives its dramatic. It's cinematic. You had that control as a still photographer to it's totally up to you. So I haven't control over your light means you can have control one location to not just in studio. Say you want to shoot all day long on the beach and you have the sun at 12 noon, but you want to overpower the sun. You can do that when you understand how to use light. It's totally up to you. I can overpower the sun and make my own life here. I'm using strobe light toe, overpower the sun and give the feeling that I want. But I didn't know that at the start of my career there's a very first location. Jobs. Actually, this is my very first location job, where I was still kind of shy about using light on location. I would have my first job in ST Lucia doing Ah, fashion story. Um, it was wonderful. I'm sure with natural light. But we have days of rain racket news. That's your light. I'm like, OK, I've got on you stolen location. This was when things changed.

Class Description

Your approach to lighting can define your style as a photographer. Join Matthew Jordan Smith, a well-known celebrity photographer as he breaks down three versatile lighting styles - soft, medium and hard light. He’ll show how pairing these styles with modifiers can enhance and change the mood of your final selects, whether you’re working with commercial, wedding or portrait clients.  


a Creativelive Student

Matthew Jordan has such a warmth and charisma. Listening to the guy talk and praising everyone for asking questions makes one sincerely engaged. I can see why people pick him to work with. He's a talented and personable man. Though this is not a hold your hand kind of class, it's really about the options and making your own choices. For someone who has lighting A.D.D. I like that! :)

Gene Tolan

Matthew Jordan Smith is excellent at his craft and also a great teacher. Very clear and concise information wrapped in a passionate presentation. Thank you very much Mr. Jordan!


A fantastic class which gets you thinking about your own lighting style, interaction with models, branding, marketing and gaining a sustainable career. I bought this on a sale and was pleased with the investment.