Lesson 5 of 11
In Progress

Intro to Lighting

The following lesson is taken from Module 2: Lighting in The Photo Fix For Teens.
Enrollment is OPEN through 1/29/21!


  • Why light is important in photography.
  • The definition of natural light.
  • Be introduced to the three SPS laws of light. 

Big. Fat. Books. Have been written about light in photography.

And you’ve heard it over and over. ‘Light, Light, Light….photography is all about light.’

And you wonder what they mean. You hear that this or that person ‘sees’ light so well and uses it so masterfully. And when you don’t quite get what they mean you just assume you have to be some kind of freak of nature to ‘get the right light.’ Us mere mortals will just have to go on taking normal photos in normal light (stinks for us).

Not really. Thank goodness. The light is for everyone folks. You can def learn how to start seeing light creatively!

One thing before we go on…

You may be asking: “Why spend time on light?”“Can’t we just get to the part where we learn about our cameras?”

Well, sure. I understand where you’re coming from. But let me just tell you. I know plenty of people who know their way around a camera, but still struggle big time to create compelling images…because they don’t have a firm handle on…you guessed it, light.

Here’s the truth: if you understand light and then spend time learning how to ‘see’ light, you can create stunning images with any camera.

Having great tools will help. For example, when I laid my wood floor, it really helped to have a pneumatic nailer. Especially for a novice like me. However, a very skilled builder could lay the floor perfectly with even a hammer and nails. Would it take more time? Sure. but a great builder could do it.

It’s same with photography. People who understand light, composition, and expression can create amazing images with any camera.

Fear ye not. The light is everywhere. And it’s for everyone.

Granted, some photographers have indeed studied light for thousands of hours, and thus their knack for finding, shaping, and adding light is in large part why they produce such kick-butt images. However, there’s a roadmap that will lead you to understanding the basics of light. Understanding these basics will have a crater-sized impact on the images you create.

Now, demystifying light in a few lessons is a tall order. But, keep in mind, we’re applying the 80/20 rule to all topics. What are the few essential things you can do that will make the absolute largest difference?

This is not the place for a tutorial about studio strobes and modifiers. But that’s okay because you’re normal and you could care less about studio strobes (some of you just asked what the heck that means anyways).

Nope, you just want to get great pics of your dog, your vacation, your friends, your flowers, your Sunday stroll, etc. For the large majority of the time, when you shoot, you’ll be doing so in ambient light, so that’s what we’re going to talk about.

Natural light = light from the sun. This comes in multiple forms, the most common of which are direct sunlight, cloudy sunlight, shade, and indoors (which is essentially shade). The quality of light is dramatically impacted by the time of day and the location of the subject in relation to the sun.

As usual, there’s just a bit of theory that builds the foundation to a lifetime of learning about light (above and beyond this class). I’ve tried my best to boil it down. That said, we’ll focus on 3 broad concepts of light, I’m naming these concepts ‘laws,’ because they’re…well…er…true…100% of the time.

  1. The bigger the light source, the softer the quality of light.
  2. Light is directional.
  3. You can change the direction of light (reflection).

With that said, let’s get on with law #1 and its practical implications…

Time to Shoot

Let’s put your learning into practice.

  • Take photos in two different locations where you think the light is different.  Look at both and see if you can notice what is different about the light in each.  
  • Post your photos to our Member Chat (available only with the Photo Fix for Teens).