Broad Light vs Short Light: Shaping the Mood in Photography and Cinema

Lighting is like a magic wand that can change how our photos and movies look and feel. It's like painting but with light! Today, we will learn about two cool lighting tricks called Broad Lighting and Short Lighting — not to be confused with hard light or soft light (here's a guide on that). These tricks help photographers and filmmakers tell stories with their pictures and films.

jeff fried photography james aguiar posing at the boom boom room with modern luxury, an example of broad lighting

An example of broad light

the best camera for portraits and portrait photography, and also an example of short lighting

An example of short light

Broad Lighting: Making Things Bright and Cheery!

Broad lighting is when the light shines on the side of a person's face that is facing the camera. It makes the photo look bright and friendly. It's like inviting the sun to your photo shoot!

  • How to Use it: Broad lighting is great for making happy and cheerful pictures. It's like having a good friend who always makes you smile.
  • Why We Like It: It makes everything look nice and friendly. It's a good way to show off a happy moment.
  • Try This: Now, have your friend turn their head away from the light as you take another photo. Notice the cool shadows and how it feels a bit mysterious?

Short Lighting: Adding a Dash of Mystery!

Short lighting is the opposite. The light shines on the side of the face turned away from the camera, making shadows on the near side. It adds a touch of mystery and drama, like a scene from a superhero movie!

  • How to Use it: Short lighting makes photos look more dramatic and exciting. It's perfect for telling a serious or mysterious story.
  • Why We Like It: It adds a cool and interesting look to our photos and movies.

Comparing Broad Light to Short Light

Broad lighting is like a sunny day, while short lighting is like a spooky night. Both are fun in their own way, and photographers can choose which one to use based on the story they want to tell.

  • Fun Fact: Photographers and filmmakers choose different lighting based on the story they want to tell. It's like choosing the right costume for a play! Lighting influences how an image will make the person looking at it feel. 
Portrait of Marija Mayer by Jeff Fried using warm, short light

An example of studio portrait lighting using short lighting

Tips to Remember:

Here are some fun tips to remember when playing with lighting:

  1. Setting Up: Setting up your lights is like setting up a stage for a play. You decide where the lights go and how bright they should be. Consider how you want the photograph or scene to feel.
  2. Outdoor Fun: When outside, the sun is your big, bright lamp. You can use the morning or late afternoon sun to try broad or short lighting.
  3. Try New Things: Mix different lighting tricks to see what cool effects you can create. It's all about having fun and telling your story!

Conclusion: Lighting is a fun and powerful tool in photography and cinema. With broad and short lighting, you can make your photos and movies tell exciting stories. So grab a camera, play with lights, and let your creativity shine bright!

  • Keep Learning: Check out more fun tips and tricks on lighting for photography on and keep exploring the magic of photography!
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