Lecture – Paul Smith – Light Introduction

In this lecture we were introduced to the works of fashion photographer Nick Knight, and his website http://www.showstudio.com. We were shown one of his videos he directed for TopShop, to get an understanding of how light can be used in many different ways, to illuminate different subjects. This video can be found here:


This video has many different techniques to lighting a person in a studio format, ranging from simple (the model holding a light above her head) to quite complicated (Using mirrored walls and strobe lights). I quite liked the set up around 1:50, with a flashing strong light which I may attempt to replicate.

Paul went on to explain how light can change the look of a background. For example in the opening sequence the model was in a white room, but the walls looked grey due to the light they were using. Light also has what’s called ‘Colour Temperature’, which is where the colour of light can change the feel of an image, sometimes making it look warmer or colder, or to represent a mood within the image such as anger, jealousy or happiness. A good example of this is the work titled “Prostitutes” by photographer Philip-Lorca Dicorcia.

For example, the image below shows the subject isolated in a red light, which could have connotations of anger, evil or general negativity. The image below that, shows the subject in a cool blue light, which could represent calmness or ‘good’.

We’ve seen that light can be used metaphorically, but can also be used as the physical structure of an image or subject. For example the following images by artists Tim and Sue (Tim Noble and Sue Webster), which is created using scrap metal built into a form that creates amazingly detailed shadows. This one below portrays the two artists together, and is titled “Wild Mood Swings”. The concept is very simple, but when combined with great attention to detail, brilliant effects can be created.

I will use some of these examples as inspiration when creating my own pieces for this module.


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