Directing the Eye


The Starter Portrait Studio: One Light, One Reflector


Lesson Info

Directing the Eye

Before we can actually dig in to lighting, we're gonna talk a little about directing the eye which we did talk about a little bit in composition. But we're gonna dig into what we're actually looking at in the frame. Kinda how light can inform our visual decisions and 'cause of we know how we see, we can give more logic and more purpose to what we photographed and how we do it. So, there's a variety of things that we see when we look at an image. By large, we look at the brightest part of the image first, areas of contrast, saturated colors but the top three that we're gonna be looking at, brightest part, areas of contrast and human faces. We also look at the middle of the image, highly saturated colors. We see warm colors more than cool colors which is why in the compositional class, we talked about how warm colors pop and the cooler tones recede. We see patterns. We see big things and we see what's in focus. That's usually a pretty good sampling of what we actually recognized in the i...

mage. But like I said, we're gonna focus on the top three: brightest part, areas of contrast and human faces. Brightest part, that was pretty self-explanatory, right? One of these is a little bit brighter than the other. That's where we gravitate towards first. We get to use light to direct where we want the eye to go in the studio. Very fundamentally ties into what we're doing. We've got areas of contrast, which could be total contrast like the top image. Dark object on a light background or it can be color contrast via complimentary colors. We've got the red apple in the sea of green. Also have human faces, even when they are obscured, that's where we go to first. Now, this is not a ground breaking image by any suit the imagination but I like it because it illustrates a few of these different concepts within the single frame. Now, this is a, this was a shot at my sister's wedding and this was the groom's men. How do we know that? Well guy in the foreground, he's the most important part. He's the biggest. He's actually the most in focused. He is the brightest part, I mean other than the little window but lots of contrast and lots of brightness in the foreground frame. He's also by himself. So, when the reflection of the mirror, you have a group of other guys and the photographer leering in the background. And so, they're group and they represent a group and so you to do's, why is there a group? Why is there a singular guy? They all dressed in tuxes. Oh, this is obviously a wedding shot. And so we use these concepts of grouping to talk about composition, to help inform the narrative and direct the eye where it should go.

Class Description

Masterful light isn’t necessarily about being complicated or having huge setups…it’s about control. In this class, Chris Knight shares some of his favorite ways to shape one light to achieve stunning results from some classic techniques as well as some surprising new ones. Learn to make light work for you to create your vision in the simplest ways possible and make your images come to life.



You can never learn enough about light. I loved this class! I recently downsized from a huge studio with multiple strobes and every kind of modifier, to a small home space with one large window and a few reflectors. This class was very informative and helpful with that transition. Chris Knight is an interesting and very knowledgeable instructor, and he was a joy to watch. I highly recommend this course!

a Creativelive Student

Chris's style was excellent straight to the point, I picked up what he was putting down and at the end, I loved seeing all of the different looks I could get from one light. This is my kind of tuition. To the point, full of great info, rehashed at the end. More like this, please.

Sébastien Nunes

Very instructive and the teacher explains very well and very clearly his point. Short course and perfect to have the hands-on quickly.