The three-point lighting setup is one of the most common methods for capturing a flattering portrait.

It involves positioning a key light, fill light, and backlight to create separation between your subject’s face and the backdrop.



What Are Film Lighting Techniques?

Film lighting techniques are used to create a desired mood or atmosphere and can be broken down into categories of dramatic films vs non-dramatic films.

Lighting is one of the most important parts of film production because it sets the tone for an entire scene and dictates how viewers will feel while watching a movie.

It’s also what makes you empathize with certain characters more than others, which is why there are so many different approaches to lighting.



A 3-point lighting setup is a basic light technique used in photography and filmmaking. The 3 points are the key, fill, and backlights.

The key light is typically placed at the camera’s left, which creates a bright side that shadows the other side of the subject from the camera’s perspective.

The second point of light is usually called fill because it fills in any parts on that darker side with more brightness than shadow.

Lastly – but just as important – is the third point: backlight or background light, which provides illumination from behind to separate your subject from its surroundings.

Film Lighting Techniques

3-Point Lighting Setup

The first step in setting up your three-point light setup is deciding which direction you want your subject to face. You have two options, either facing the camera or away from it.

The second step is placing one key light 45 degrees off to the side that your subject’s face would be on if they were facing you.

This should be placed at a height between 5 and 8 feet depending on where you are going for natural-looking shadows or dramatic ones respectively (lower for more natural).

Split Lighting

Split lighting is a technique that uses two light sources (natural or artificial) to illuminate one side of the subject’s face while leaving the other side in shadow.

This creates an interesting contrast between shadows and highlights on one person’s face which can make for great photographs.

The Split Lighting technique is a great way to create an attractive mood in your photos.


It provides the perfect balance of light and shadow that is often used by photographers for both commercial and artistic purposes.

Butterfly Lighting

In cinematography, butterflies (also known as overheads) are structures on which materials are mounted so as to control lighting in a scene or photograph.

Butterfly Lighting, or Dietrich lighting, has the key light shining directly in front of and then raised to the subject’s forehead or higher.

The result of this style of lighting is a small, butterfly-like shadow under the nose. The lighting accentuates the cheekbones and also creates strong depth in the face.

Loop Lighting

You can achieve loop lighting when the key light is set to the side of the subject and then slightly raised above the subject’s eye line.

This placement causes light to hit the subject’s nose, casting a shadow in the shape of a loop onto the subject’s face, hence why it’s called loop lighting.

Rembrandt Lighting

Rembrandt Lighting is a technique that was used by Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn in the 17th century.

He would paint his subject matter with light coming from an angle of 45 degrees on one side, which would create dramatic effects and shadows.

This type of lighting became popular because it could be replicated more easily than natural sunlight.

It has been used by artists ever since to bring out depth and dimension in their paintings and drawings.

Rembrandt’s use of this technique was so masterful that he became known as “The Painter of Light.”


Today, photographers also use this technique to highlight different aspects or moods within their photos when they are taken during the golden hour (just before sunset).

Rembrandt lighting is a common term for the way light is used in portraits from the 17th century.

It can be achieved by placing a single source of light on one side of the subject, resulting in three-dimensional form and contour.

Rembrandt’s use of this technique made his paintings more lifelike and dramatic than other artists at that time who predominantly only used natural daylight or candlelight as their light sources.

Today, many portrait photographers still use Rembrandt lighting because it creates beautiful images with great depth and detail.

Short Lighting

Short lighting, as the name implies, is when your subject’s face is lit primarily from a light source that is directly above them.


Short Lighting can be tricky because it produces some really unflattering shadows under the eyes and nose of your subject.

It also makes any wrinkles or lines more pronounced which may not be what you’re going for if you are trying to achieve a soft look.

Broad Lighting

Broad lighting is a technique that, when used properly, can really help to make your subject pop. But what does it mean and how do you use it?

Broad lighting is achieved by having the main light source coming from anywhere except directly in front of or behind the camera.

This type of light will create shadows on one side of the face which will give structure to their features while also illuminating the other half.

The term broad lighting can be used to describe a type of light that is coming from the side and behind the subject.

This type of lighting would be used for portraits, group pictures, or even set shots.

The purpose of this type of light could range from highlighting certain features on an individual’s face to adding more depth to a photo with headshots in it.