Arts & Entertainment, Design & Style

Lighting & Composition

Tyler Mitchell

Lesson time 09:40 min

Tyler teaches the fundamentals of lighting, how to create moods through light, and how to shape and control indoor and natural light. Discover how lighting impacts composition and Tyler’s approach to creating strong frames for your photographs.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Lighting Black Skin · Composition


[MUSIC PLAYING] - The first thing to know about lighting is that-- for me, at least personally, the best light is the most simple light. I look for light that replicates or is natural light, that is the sun or is closest to the sun, because that's what I like. But the thing to know about lighting is that, again, it's an extension of your personal creative sensibility. And whether you want something to be darker, then you'll obviously make a room more black around and use fewer lights. Or if you want something brighter, you'll try and go nearer to a window. But it's all about what you want to do. And I think for me and my work, again, I try and get closest to the sun. I try and replicate what the sun would look like in either sunrise or sunset hours of the day. And when I'm in the studio, I also do the same. You know, I try and recreate either a window or whatever feels most like natural light inside of a room. Depending on what lighting, you know, an image has or that you're using, it can drastically alter the mood of whatever the image is that you're creating. So if you're in a dark room with one lamp, that will obviously have a certain mood, more like nighttime. If you're in a big room with a big window, that will obviously have more of a daytime feel. So think about what time of day you're trying to depict. Think about what kind of scene or story you're trying to tell. When shooting outdoors, it's super important to think about what time of day you're outdoors. Earlier in the day, around sunrise or before 10:00 or 11:00 AM, the light is going to be lower. Sun's going to be lower. It's going to be more of a sunrise kind of light. Whenever you go outside and look around those hours, think about what it looks like. Think about if you like that. Think about if you want to take photos at that time of day. From around 10:00, 11:00, until 1:00, the sun can be highest in the sky. The light's going to be higher. The light's going to be more like a noon light. So people's faces are a little less flattering around that time. There's going to be eye shadows. There's going to be eyelash shadows on people's faces. And the light's a little more contrasty. It's a little more hot and it's a little more high in the sky. And then back around sunset, it's kind of like around how it is around sunrise. The sun is lower again. It's setting. And yeah, you get that kind of sunset feel that we all know. For me and a lot of the work in my book, in "I Can Make You Feel Good," a few images were made at night. But the vast majority of those images were made in the daytime outdoors and making sure that the sun was really hitting and illuminating my subjects. That was because I wanted to really focus on the subject first and everything else after. So I really wanted people's eyes to travel to the subject first. And so when you're thinking about lighting, make sure your light is in the brightest or dark spots, where you want the eye ...

About the Instructor

A revolutionary talent, Tyler Mitchell made history as the first Black photographer to shoot an American Vogue cover, work that is part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. Now he’s sharing his process with you. Discover how to create and compose striking portraits, work with natural light and shadow, and tell a compelling story through your photos—even if the only equipment you have is your phone.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Tyler Mitchell

History-making photographer Tyler Mitchell teaches you his artistic process for creating compelling images with any kind of camera.

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