This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.

Why is three point lighting used?

The traditional three point lighting technique is considered to be one of the most reliable lighting arrangements in photography and videography.

The goal is to highlight and accent the dimensions of the subject(s) on video. By placing the lights strategically around the subject, each source illuminates a separate dimension of the subject and creates a video with greater height, width, and depth… all while eliminating unsightly shadows.

Three point lighting setup

Key light - works as the main lamp, usually is placed 45° to the left side or right side of the camera while facing 45° from the subject. Sometimes when the shadows caused by are too harsh, a diffuser is essential. While in some occasions when filming outdoors, the sun can be used as the main light.

Fill light - diffused and less bright, aims at reducing the shadows result from the key, therefore it emits on the subject from a side angle. A reflector can soften the light that is too bright and causing more shadows. Normally, place the fill at the reflector to make some diffused light shining on the subject.

Back light - referred to as the rim, hair, or shoulder light that emits on the subject’s back, so as to separating the subject from the background. Sometime it is placed on the side to highlighting the hair, namely, kicker. Rather than placing a diffused lamp overhead, many videographers tend to apply a focused mono LED.

[For more information about the differences between key and fill light, check the article Key light vs fill light: What’s different and how to use?]

Three point lighting

If you want to know more information about three-point lighting setup, see Complete guide to best lighting for video which gives a complete explanation about the positioning of each type of lamp.

Why should I use three-point lighting?

Traditional three-point lighting is not always required on site where natural daylight and artificial lamp around brighten up lives more than enough. Still, in photography and film, one lamp can only brighten up the one side it is shining on the subject.

With this three point lighting scheme, dynamic shadows, which can be light or heavy, are created to make your photos and video more lively, leading to dimension and depth to your final result. 

For more 3-dimensional depth in shots, you can add photography background lighting to get a 4-point setup.

Use it in YouTube videos

The content of YouTube videos varies differently, and as a Influencer or vlogger, it is likely to record the written footage in the form of interview. In this case, with the color-by-number method, three point lighting for video can come in handy.

Try to modulate your illumination scheme a little by means of moving the key lamp to a different angle, or adjust the intensity of fill lamp, so that a clean, rather than flat, figure can be shaped.

To further achieve that goal, the back lamp can also help. Apply a backlight to the emblem or branding on the wall to make the wall “pop”, while consider using a kicker lamp for additional characteristic on your face.

Soft lighting is quite beneficial for YouTube videos (particularly beauty channels) for the reason that instead of casting on you with strong intensity causing harsh shadows, soft bulb is always diffused enough to shine on the subject averagely.

Start to glow here: A light for video

As for YouTubers, apart from a nice looking from the camera, you should understand the importance of a nice footage. Also, adding a fill light with a key is always better than using only a key. Applying the COLBOR CL100 COB LED light in the method of three point lighting can reduce the hard shadows that key lamp casts on your face.

It can reproduce the natural light while restoring the original color of the subject accurately, and plays an important role in the occasions of both videography as well as photography, so that YouTubers, influencers, vloggers and photographers can achieve creative results.

This bi-color video light offers more than 30 types of dramatic effect and 7 built-in modes. Along with its intelligent temperature control system, it is always ready for indoor and outdoor shooting. 

A good tip to follow

The three point lighting definition is always about key, fill and back, but it does not always play by one strict set of rule, it is up to you to show artistic creativity and freedom. For example, you can try fine-tuning the brightness and ratios of the three LEDs, while regulate the position and distance between your subject and LEDs. Some may move the position of camera, either further away or closer, or try out various lenses.

Other than the aforementioned, you can work with colored gels and filters to create more variation. Always remember that three point lighting is the fundamental setup method. With more creation - modulating some of the settings and positions of these lamps, you may find that it will respond with greatly difference.