Skip to main content

Masters of Photography

Lesson 13 of 25

Interiors - Using Existing Light

Steve McCurry

Masters of Photography

Steve McCurry

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

13. Interiors - Using Existing Light


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Meet Your Master Duration:00:47
2 The Early Years Duration:08:30
3 Going To War Duration:08:03
4 Influences: Cartier-Bresson Duration:08:29
5 Other Influences Duration:08:06
6 Tell A Story Duration:12:04
7 Conflict Zones Duration:14:13
8 Finding Subjects And Stories Duration:13:16
9 Choosing The Light Duration:12:55
15 Portraiture - 9 Key Tips Duration:08:27
17 Photographing Children Duration:12:37
18 The Afghan Girl Duration:05:59
19 Using Juxtaposition Duration:06:37
20 Landscape Duration:10:14
21 Composition Duration:06:52
22 Cityscapes Duration:08:20
23 Shoot In All Weather Duration:06:39
25 Making Pictures For A Living Duration:02:20

Lesson Info

Interiors - Using Existing Light

(gentle music) I this is a really interesting location it's a medieval monastery and they have these really small rooms, one light source coming through this window so it creates a really nice mood. The walls have this graffiti and all this sort of texture. It's quite an interesting place, these fryers come and they make pilgrimages to this location so we may see some of these local fryers. I asked this fryer if I can photograph him and he was very kind to agree. So I'm going to photograph him here in this old kitchen. It's nice they have this wonderful wall and all the cork on the window and this fryer kind of in this contemplative mood. This window light is very nice, it's very soft it really gives a felling of intimacy. The challenge in here is that it's so dark but that's also the strength the beauty of digital photography is you can increase your ISO and make a wonderful picture despite the fact that it's so dark. Generally my solution to interior lighting is just to use what's ...

already existing the light that's coming through the doors or windows or light fixtures, I don't think you need to use extra lights, strobes or LEDs or whatever sometime that can be helpful but generally I would just use what's available what's already existing. (gentle music) Another example of interior lighting which I like to share with you was made in Kabul, there was some women at home with their sewing machines doing some work and the light was beautiful it was just natural light coming through the windows. I think the best light is what's there what's av alible, I think the best solution to interior lighting is maybe a tripod but just to use natural light. I think this picture works for me because of the special relationships of the women the shapes, shadows, the bright areas, the depth, looking from one room, through a hallway to another room. And I think you have a sense of what it was really like to be there and the true light that was coming through the windows, which was wonderful. (gentle music) This is a picture of some Tibetan monks in their maroon robes visiting the Red Fort in Old Deli in India. I thought I was intruded by the light by the design of the windows and how it was coming in and how it was silhouetting these monks but you could still see their shapes and you could still see the fact that they were wearing these maroon robes. Because of this sort of high contrast, monks become almost like shapes and the design of the windows and the shadows it becomes very graphic and I think works well on that level. (gentle music) This is an interior portrait I made in Tibet of this young boy who was part of a nomad family. I was inside of their tent and I thought the best solution to the lighting of this picture was to just to simply photograph him in the existing light, what was already there, I thought there was no need to use a strobe or an LED. I thought that just the best way to do this was just to make it natural the way the light really was, the authentic light was in the tent that afternoon. The top of the tent happened to be open primarily to let the smoke out. Of course when it starts to rain they close the top of the tent this provided them with light and also a way to let the smoke escape. (gentle music) I photographed this family at their home in Honduras. I thought that it was an interesting scene. I spent more than a week in this very small village of maybe twelve families and I came and visited these people most of them on a daily basis. But this one particular morning the wife was making lunch and the father was there with is two children he was having a cup of coffee and they were playing, again it was just this simple case of using the existing light that was coming through the doorways and a couple small windows, but I thought it gave a real true representation of the light I didn't feel there was any need to augment the existing light with strobes or LEDs I just thought, I always think the best solution is to use what's already there.

Class Description

Steve McCurry has been one of the most important voices in contemporary photography for more than thirty years. Masters of Photography is bringing Steve’s class to CreativeLive to share the learnings from his iconic career. Steve will teach how to:

  • Find a subject to photograph
  • How to shoot in all types of weather condition
  • Understand the light at different times of day
  • Improve your compositional skills
  • Blend into the environment so that you can capture impactful street images
  • Use his 8 key tips in order to capture the best portraits

Watch and learn with Steve as you accompany him through the fishing villages of Portugal and in the vibrant streets of Havana. See for yourself how he creates images, as he shares ideas and experiences, and explains how to make great photographs. Steve will also suggest some projects for you to try for yourself.

You can use any device from camera phone to’s all about the image and storytelling.


Adriana L-G

For me this is not a class, is more the photographer talking about his photos and his experience. It is a little repetitive but I enjoyed. From Masters of Photography I loved Joel Meyerowitz's class and I recommend it strongly. In case you need to choose.