11 Different Types of Lighting in Photography | Do I Use It?

different types of lighting in photography

You see a lot of people holding cameras these days, but not all of them know how to use one. Photography is pure art, and very few people properly understand it.

different types of lighting in photography

One of the crucial elements to understanding this art is the knowledge of lighting that you use while capturing a picture. Photography is all about lighting.

To enhance your photography skills to an elite level, you must learn how to sync with natural lighting so that you can control it and capture the perfect moment flawlessly.

Top 11 Different Types of Lights in Photography

In this article, I will try to cover the most important types of lighting conditions that you can use to your advantage as a photographer.

Following is a healthy list of some conditions and techniques that you can use.

1. Front Lighting

Flat lighting or front lighting is a condition when your subject is in front of the sun. It can be of two types, soft lighting, and hard lighting.

When light is facing the subject directly, it can result in a flat photo and hide the details. So shadow should be maintained to highlight necessary features.

2. Soft light

Soft light is ideal as it provides necessary shadows to pour richness into the photograph and also to eradicate flaws like freckles or acne on the subject’s face.

This lighting is available in early afternoons and late mornings and gives the premium quality contrast that makes a photo dashing.

Read Also: Best Light Box For Photography

3. Hard Light

As opposed to soft lights, it creates a strong contrast and strong shadows. Light from the midday sun is the main source of hard light.

Hard light is to be used very wisely as it can result in undesirable brightness and hiding of important details.

4. Side Lighting

Split light or side light is when the light hits the subject on the face closest to the camera. It creates a shadow on the opposite face and is ideal for thin faces.

The shadows provide extra depths and hide imperfections. They also enhance the face texture and make it look purer.

5. Back Lighting

The light which hits from behind the subject is the backlight. This type of light is available during the horizon and the dawn.

This type of lighting is used when the details of the subjects are not major considerations. It provides a hazy feel to the subject and creates a silhouette.

The main focus is on the background, and the contrast is only minor. So if your subjects want to be prominent, then you may opt for some other time or technique.

Read Also: Best On Camera LED Light

6. Broad Lighting

It is actually a subcategory of sidelight and is the condition when the most lit side of the face is in front of the camera.

This type of lighting works pretty well with narrow faces and gives them a quite fuller texture. But if you are dealing with an already full face, this is not a very good option.

7. Short Lighting

It is opposite to broad lighting and is the condition when the front of the face is under the shadow. It creates contrast, but the background is more lit comparatively.

Short light provides more deep images. This light is also used to hide undesirable textures such as wrinkles and imperfections.

8. Light From Above

This is a condition when sunlight hits the subject from the top. It is an important lighting condition as it is applicable for most of the day.

So a good photographer must know how to deal with it. This light can be troublesome, sometimes creating unnecessary shadows.

However, you can use it to your advantage by different techniques such as capturing at an angle as to use shadow for a deep, decent, and rich picture.

Read Also: Best LED Lights For Video

9. Rim Light

It is a type of backlight. It is often used when the objective is to separate the subject from the background. For this light, subjects are moved at a small angle with backlighting.

This gives the necessary light to provide extra details of the edges. It beautifully exposes the edges, and a clear line is created between the subject and the background.

10. Butterfly Light

This lighting condition is named after the butterfly shadow produced under your nose as a result. The light comes from above and in front of the subject.

Before using this technique, you need to have a good understanding of your subjects’ features as it can be both good and bad.

This lighting effect highlights cheekbones but, at the same time, make the deep-set eyes more obvious. So you must know the subject’s face before making a decision.

11. Loop Light

Loop light works well with almost all the subjects. It is less dramatic and gives a richer look. This lighting is obtained by moving light to a 45 degrees angle to the subject and slightly above eye level.

This creates the shadow of a nostril and the nose. It keeps the subject well-lit as well. This is an ultimate balance between shadows and light making it a beautiful coincidence.


By now, you have obtained some quality information on different types of lighting that you will come across in your everyday photography life.

At the end of the day, no matter which light you are using and what technique you are applying, your image must be alive and communicating with the eyes of the viewer.

A photographer is an artist. His painting tool is the camera, and color is the light he is using. So like a good artist, he must know how to use both of these.

It takes time to develop such a skill, but you are not going anywhere. Are you?

So get started with this beautiful voyage of striking hard lights and soothing soft lights and enjoy yourself!

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