Back Light


The Business of Photography


Lesson Info

Back Light

(camera clicks and beeps) And that's blue steel. (audience laughs) You're looking more like this, Toby, right? Straight on? Yeah. Do it again. (camera beeps and clicks) Yeah, okay, great. Could probably come down a little bit on that backlight. It's a little hot, but that's lighting their whole scene. I know, it's lighting the scene. We don't have to come down on it, we could just move this in tighter too. One of the things I've always loved doing is not lighting the foreground. Bouncing the foreground. It's a funny little story, but one of the very first lighting kind of scenarios that I liked, and I wanted to recreate, was when I was a kid. And I remember, in the middle of the night, waking up and was going to go to the restroom, as one does in the middle of the night. And I had a ladder off my bunk bed, and I was going to the bathroom. And the light was on in the corridor, and I opened the door, and I looked and I saw myself in the mirror. The lights were off in the bathro...

om. And I was like, oh, that's interesting, that's a cool lighting, as it bounced off the mirror and lit me across the back, you know, lit me in my face with the light bulb. But the light bulb was causing a glow behind me. And I'm like, oh, I've never seen myself look like that before. This sort of shot in the middle of the night, in total darkness, but with the light bulb all the way down the corridor. And I have always since then sort of looked at lights, sort of scenarios and then tried to recreate them. So, I'm constantly, in real life, looking at real life lighting, where the sun lights things in certain ways, or a light bulb lights something that I find interesting, and looking and going, it's there, it's there, this is here, and then trying to recreate it. A bit like the light bulb, you know, next to the couch as a young kid seeing the light and thinking, this light bulb is this far away, it was this type of light bulb, it was this big. All these things make a difference 'cause you have a bigger umbrella. It's not gonna be the same. More light's gonna come out of it. But it also made me realize back then just how much I liked the light source coming from the back. So, you find the style. It becomes a thing that you do. And you explore it further and further. Alright, let's do one more. And again, normally, I would have a mark for the model. Did we just introduce that? I just added a strip in just to clean it up a little bit. (chuckles) You see what he's doing now. (camera beeps and clicks) Beautiful. That's nice. Now, I can play with that, it's great. Let's get Rhonda in. So, as he said, he brought in a strip to clean up the image. That's an expression we use all the time. Cleaning up the image. So, you'll start, and you'll see areas there that you're like, a little fill here, a little tweak there, and we fill. We just clean up. And you can start by lighting the whole thing. It's often easier, actually, to light it bit by bit and add a little bit, and then tweak, and add a little bit, and then tweak versus just setting the whole setup and then jumping in it 'cause it's hard to then balance all the lights. By adding them one at a time, you get a better sense of your build. There's two ways here. You can stand in front of it, like I am, or you have a longer lens and you're on the other side of it. But it's why it becomes kind of tricky. I'm gonna make my presence less known. I'm gonna move you this way a little, honey. There you go. I think we can twist this just a tiny bit, Tobs. Towards her. Yeah, that's good. Thank you. And you can just look towards this way here, and then the eyes to the camera now. There you go. Beautiful. (camera beeps and clicks) Boom. How much better it looks on Rhonda than me. (laughs) But very subtle. This glow in the background. The bounce off just the white card, the white paper. Super soft here, but harsh back there, and I love that contrast. The contrast in very soft, gentle versus very harsh, hot light. One can obviously make this darker, and you can make everything, you know, the further the model is away from the wall, the darker the white background will go. You can also card this off and put a v-flat here so there's no spill hitting it, and then introduce another light, and hit a light into the background so that you control an aspect of the background which is super dark. There's a little white, glowing element down there. Turn this into a silver reflector and make it much more speculative. Or just put a little bit of a silver reflector in here and bounce and start to carve the light up. I'm inspiring Toby. (audience laughs) Okay, let's have a go. (camera beeps and clicks) Gorgeous. Boom. So, now we're bringing it in all the way through here. Obviously, lit her up gorgeously. There's a nice wrap of darkness that comes through here, but it still catches in the eye. And the more you kind of crunch these, I mean, these are raw right out of the camera. You're looking at this completely raw image, right? But there's a beautiful story there in this little area of darkness. And I love that. And for me, I would savor the light like this, and I would really work on that expression and the emotion that's coming out of there. This is the kind of lighting that I would probably use if I were shooting even a magazine cover. And it's super simple, super easy, and it's gonna really catch someone's eye.

Class Description

“Think Big, Dream Bigger” - that’s the philosophy that internationally renowned photographer Nigel Barker has lived by his whole career. Join Nigel on CreativeLive as he shares how to make your dreams become reality.

Nigel will discuss his journey as a photographer and will teach through the moments that he learned from that ultimately led to his success. From developing your style, creating a brand, owning your confidence and going after and getting jobs, Nigel will help you become a successful photographer while still being yourself. In the class you’ll learn how to:

  • Create your brand by establishing who you are
  • Present yourself to the client so that they understand your style and abilities
  • Build a library of work for marketing your business
  • Use lighting to create emotion
  • Connect with your models and break the wall of posing

Be a fly on the wall as Nigel does a live shoot and shares his knowledge about equipment, environment, and how to work with models. And he’ll end the day with a live critique and discuss the best ways to use your images to present yourself to your clients and customers. By the end of this class, you’ll have the tools to set yourself up for success.


a Creativelive Student

Passion, personal, inspiring! Nigel, thanks for amazing class and a lot of great advices.

Angela Brown

Mr. Barker is his best when interacting with models and sharing his inspirational tips for extracting emotion from his subjects. When he is 'raw.' I'm now a fan!

Stefan Legacy

Nigel is an excellent teacher! Gets straight to the point, very thorough with his teaching and his explanations. On the business side he talks about his own successes and failures and gives you examples of how to create marketing opportunities for yourself. On the photoshoot side he explains all his setups, why he executes things a certain way, his interactions with his subjects and the photographs he's trying to create. Probably one of the best CL courses I've watched!