Do you know that photography is defined as “the art or technique of forming pictures by the impact of radiant energy, particularly light, on a sensitive surface (such as film or an optical sensor)”?

Even the term “photography” comes from the Greek terms “photos” and “graphie,” which combined translate to “drawing with light.”

It’s always a great idea to brush up on several popular, adaptable, and often utilized types of lighting in photography, regardless of your level of photography experience.

Although no one form of light works in every situation, I will cover the fundamentals in this post so you can begin to understand the various important types of natural or artificial lighting and how to choose the right kind for your particular picture.

Others like the light that can only be found in nature, even though many professional photographers have built their careers by taking portraits in a studio.

Remember that we aim to get the proper light onto your camera sensor.

The Importance of Light in Photography

The lighting you use is the most crucial component in any image’s composition in photography. In photography, “light” refers to the kind of light source—natural or artificial—and how it connects to your subject.

Your final image’s clarity, tone, emotion, and a host of other factors may all be impacted by the location and quality of the light. You will develop as a photographer if you pay attention to how light interacts with your subject’s angles and curves, and which areas of the subject get illumination and which do not because you will begin to understand how to best use your light source for each composition and project.

Whether photographing a person or a landscape, many of your lighting decisions will rely on the subject’s attributes and how you want to present them in your images. In contrast to soft light, which constantly smooths over these aspects, hard light is harsher and emphasizes angles and surfaces that are not completely flat, such as the waves at a beach.

Your path to developing and creating the greatest photographs will be greatly aided by learning how to use natural and artificial lighting in any circumstance.

Various Lighting Types

Natural and artificial light are the two basic types.

Natural light may be anything that happens naturally, such as the direct sunlight on a sunny day, the diffused light produced by clouds or fog, or even the moonlight at night.

On the other hand, artificial lighting is often movable and adaptable to your needs. Unlike natural lighting, where you would need to shift the subject and camera depending on the lighting method you wish to utilize, artificial lighting is simpler to place concerning your subject.

If you know how to utilize them, you can alter both artificial and natural lighting to produce a wide variety of lighting effects.

In photography, there are many different kinds of lighting, and they all have unique effects. Here are some typical light kinds and some tips for using them. (Keep in mind that you may always use filters to regulate the various kinds of light.)

Natural Light

Understanding the sun’s angle and how it will impact your composition is crucial if you want to employ natural light in your photography. For instance, the sun will be straight above most of the day, lighting your subject from above. While a cloudy sky may dilute the sunshine so that the contrast of light around your subject is less stark, a bright day will produce more strong shadows.

You could pick the hour closest to dawn and sunset for softer natural lighting as the sun will be at an angle rather than straight above, and its brightness might be more moderate. Professional landscape photographers like to shoot during these hours of the day.

Front Light (or Flat Light)

The front light happens when the light source is immediately in front of your subject. There may not be many shadows because of the non-angle of the light. No image area will be rather exposed than the others due to the uneven distribution of the light.

Portraits may benefit from flat lighting. Front lighting won’t give you the detail you need to bring the subject’s personality to life if you’re trying to paint a portrait with a lot of personalities.

If you are studying symmetry photography, employing front lighting has another advantage since the absence of shadows makes both sides of the face look more symmetrical.


When the light source is behind the subject, and the subject is between the light and your camera, the shot is said to be backlit. This might be a fantastic chance to experiment with long shadows and silhouettes in your photographs. Backlit photography may have the drawback of having an incorrect white balance, which can cause your subject’s details to be lost. This is effective for creating silhouettes, but if you still want to be able to see some detail in your subject, take out your light diffuser and use it to reflect some of the light from the backdrop onto the front of your subject.

Soft Light

When your light source is diffused, soft lighting results, making the impact more subdued than it would be with a direct source of light, if you choose soft lighting, your shot will have fewer, if any, shadows of any significance and less contrast between the bright and dark areas.

A diffusion panel may be placed between the light source & your subject in a photographic studio. If you’re shooting outdoors on a cloudy day, soft light will naturally result since the clouds in the sky will filter the sun’s direct light.

Hard Light

Hard lighting, however, is when your light source is focused straight at your subject. It often uses the noon light to generate strong contrast and intensity, dazzling whites, and black shadow. This light may be created in a studio using a spotlight or another direct light source.

Rim Light

Backlighting may be used to generate rim light when the light is coming from above or behind at an angle. Depending on the direction your light is coming from, the light will strike your subject in a manner that generates a glowing outline or highlight around the topic. This method helps separate it from the surroundings by giving clarity to the topic.

Place the light source behind and above your subject, then move it around until you see the light rim. While a low contrast will soften the overall impact, a strong contrast will highlight the rim light.

Loop Lighting

A specialized portrait lighting method is loop lighting. The term alludes to a shadow “loop” that extends from the nose to the cheek. Compared to some of the other possibilities discussed, it is often seen as a less dramatic or intense option for photographs.

Almost everyone responds well to loop lighting. Place your light at a 45-degree angle and slightly higher than the subject. By moving the light up and down, you may play with a more or less defined loop, and you can change the strength of the shadow by simply moving the light closer to or further away from the subject.

Broad Lighting

Broad light for photography is a sort of side lighting in which the side of the subject nearest to the camera is lighted, and the side farther away is in the shade. It is often used for graduation photographs. The advantage of this strategy is that the side with the light will look bigger than the side in the darkness. To obtain this appearance, position your subject at an angle with their back to the camera.

Short Lighting

The opposite of wide lighting is essentially short lighting. The side of the subject nearest to the camera is in shadow in this instance, while the side furthest from the camera is in light. Short lighting will thin down the subject rather than fill it in, so be careful when and how you employ both methods.

Butterfly Lighting

Butterfly lighting, like loop lighting, gets its name from the particular kind of shadow it casts on your subject. To cast a butterfly-shaped shadow underneath your subject, place your light in front of and above them. This kind of lighting is often used in glamour photos, especially headshots.

Split Lighting

Split lighting occurs when the light strikes your subject at a 90-degree angle. Consequently, your subject’s centre is cut into a straight line, with one side lighted and the other completely in the shade. If you want to create a dramatic portrait, this is a terrific choice, especially if you use harsh rather than soft light.

Rembrandt Lighting

Rembrandt’s use of light in his portrait paintings serves as the inspiration for the name of this kind of lighting. Similar to split lighting, it is side lighting where the subject’s side is in the shade and has a triangle of light. This can be very effective at giving the appearance of three dimensions to a two-dimensional image.