Introduction to Lighting


Portrait Photography Fundamentals


Lesson Info

Introduction to Lighting

Why do we need to create light? I mean I have a camera sitting at home, it can do 500,000 ISO. It doesn't even need light to take a picture. Give me some good reasons why we need to create light. Because if the technology is getting better and better, why do we really need to know how to create light? But, when you have your own light, you can create shadows. Why do we need shadows? Shadows bring out the texture in things because photography is two-dimensional, it's not three-dimensional. So if we are ever to see shape on anything, you have to have a highlight and a shadow. That being able to mold and create your shadows, that's really why I like light. It's not because I want to get a great exposure, which it does help if you have no light at all, but I want to put the shadows where I want them to make it look like to simulate the real world. Because in the real world, what is the earth lit by? The sun, one big, constant light source that's off camera. A lot of my lighting techniques ...

... When you look at it and you want it to ... Oh wow! I can't tell whether that's video light, window light. That's what I'm going for. I want it to look like you can't even tell what type of lighting that I'm using. That's when you know you're getting to be a light master, is when you start to feel your photos are like that, and people just really can't tell what you're using. But that's learning how to create shadows. I can tell you how to get the right exposure in one shot. I did that in crazy, stupid light and that was ... That's easy. Getting the light to fall correctly on your subject is a lot difficult. What is that? Lower the ambient light. A lot of times when you're shooting in a flat situation, you have to add contrast in there too. That's part of adding shadows to it. Depending on where you are, you can take away all the ambient light that's there, like what we did in the five wow shots. I just purposely took away all the ambient light by doing a camera setting where I made it so that there's no ambient light and I'm using just my existing light so then I have full control of the situation. But, sometimes you want some of that ambient light in there maybe to light the background up, or whatever, but you want full control of that. Whether you want to take some of the ambient light away to create contrast, like if you're in a flat light situation, or you want to add it because you see a nice, beautiful city lights in the background. You've got to be able to control those things. And being able to control the light on your subject, allows you to take full control of your lighting situation. Adding catchlights. That's huge, especially when you're doing portraits. If you don't add a catchlight really it's not a portrait, in my mind. You kind of really have to have that. Post processing comes alive when you have good lighting. That's part of my signature post processing style is that because I light my subjects, everyone of my subjects I try to light, have a certain signature lighting on it so when I bring that in to post processing, it's way easy. It feels like, man whatever you do it just looks good. But I find that those shots that I struggle with, oh I don't know what to do here in post-processing, or anything that I try just doesn't look good, it's usually because the lighting is too flat, and I can't do anything with it at that point. Let's take an example of lighting. So if I didn't have my lighting and I was out here in Hawaii taking a picture of my friend. Often when the light is bright in the background, I've got a choice, either I correctly expose the subject, or I expose the background. And since there's so much light in that background there, if I expose for that sky, she would be dark. So most of us just expose for the subject because that's who we want to see. But if you have a second light source, you can come in and get both. Don't you want the best of both worlds? So you set your background, she becomes dark, and then you just add in light as you need it. You shouldn't complicate yourself in regards to lighting. Lighting is almost just like using a reflector. And when you use a reflector it's like you move in a little closer to make it brighter, or move it a little bit further to make it not as bright if you're shooting in manual. That's why I recommend manual to shoot with because it's really easy, it's just like using a reflector.

Class Description

Want to be able to go into any situation with your camera and have the confidence to know you’ll get the shot? Award-Winning photographer Scott Robert Lim goes in-depth on the four foundational elements you must conquer if you want to develop your creativity and style.

Scott will give you the guidelines you need to master:

  • Lighting
  • Posing
  • Composition
  • Post-Processing

Once you master these fundamentals of portraits, you free up your mind to get creative and ultimately get the shot.


1Class Introduction 25 Shots That WOW 3Four Fundamentals of Photography 4Create a Visual Impact with Composition 5Importance of Foreground and Background 6Create Depth in Landscape Images 7Photos Don't Always Follow the Rules 8Composition Practice Exercise 9Composition Critique of Student Images 10Keys to Posing 11Shoot: Classic Elegance Female Pose 12Shoot: Modern Female Pose 13Shoot: Rollover Female Pose 14Female Hands & Arms Poses Overview 15Shoot: Hands and Arms Poses for Female 16Seven Posing Guidelines 17Headshots Poses with Male Model 18Shoot: Headshot for Male Model 19Shoot: Sitting Poses for Male Model 20Shoot: Leaning Poses for Male Model 21Shoot: Standing Poses for Male Model 22Keys to Couples Posing 23Shoot: Couples Posing 24Couples Transitional Posing Overview 25Shoot: Transitional Posing 26Keys to Group Posing 27Accordion Technique with Groups 28Shoot: Accordion Technique 29Shoot: Best Buds Pose 30Shoot: Talk with Your Hands Pose 31Shoot: Lock Arms and Hold Hands Pose 32Run at the Camera and Dance in Your Seat Poses 33Shoot: Pod Method Pose 34Posing Critique of Student Images 35Introduction to Lighting 36Soft vs Hard Light 37Difficult Lighting Situations 38Bright Light Techniques 39Overcast Light Techniques 40Low Light Techniques 41Lighting Techniques Q&A 42Drama Queen Lighting 43Laundry Basket Lighting 44Make it Rain Lighting 45Smart Phone Painting with Light 46Mini LED Bokeh Lighting 47Choose the Right Lighting System 48Hybrid Flash System 49Innovative Accessories 50Gear Overview 51Theatrical Post-Processing 52Ten Keys to Post-Processing 53Essential Skills to Post-Processing 54Headshot Post-Processing 55Bright Light Post-Processing 56Flat Light Post-Processing 57Low Light Post-Processing 58Introduction to Fine Art Post-Processing 59Light & Airy Fine Art Post-Processing 60Dark & Moody Fine Art Post-Processing 61Post-Processing Critique of Student Images


Vitor Rademaker

This course is amazing! Scott is extremely straightforward. He goes directly to practical problems, tips and etc. He explains every thing very clearly, and he is also very funny and charismatic, making you laugh as you learn. He shows that you don't need a lot of expensive gear to make very nice pictures. So I have saved some money as well, cause I was about to buy some gear that I wouldn't need right now. It is for sure one of the best photography courses I have ever attended to! I highly recommend! Thanks a lot Scott! You are the best!


I have purchased a number of classes, this being one of them. The quality of the information was good and the level at which Scott spoke was appropriate for me. Having a course sylibus would add greatly to the value, which usually is not part of the programs I've purchased including this one, unless I've missed it. I believe the speaker should be required to provide one. After watching the videos, much of material can be recaptured by seeing it in writing. I would like to hear back from Creativelive their thoughts. In sum, good topic, good speaker, good technical audio and video quality by Creativelive


Another fantastic class with Scott Robert Lim! The combination of his knowledge, willingness to share, passion & entertaining personality makes him a top choice for photography education. Learning not only the "what", but the "why" & "how" can transform one's entire approach towards MAKING pictures. A constant inspiration to get better & better through practice.