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Photography Lighting

Photography lighting, start with these top five tips.

Photography lighting, start with these top five tips.


Starting in 2021, I will post ideas, tips and share photography and Marketing content. 

Photography lighting, whether using a phone or a camera, starts with these top five tips to improve your lighting.

Let’s chat photography. What do you want to improve in 2021?

Do you want to sip Martinis with your camera in the sunshine?

Great photography courses can be expensive. Working with a few tips, you can improve your photography fast. Lighting is the key ingredient to master, to achieve the results you desire. Nothing brings results more quickly than photographing photos daily.

Start Snapping. Your photography will improve by picking up the camera and capturing photographs. I have a habit of photographing something almost every day. Sometimes it is a glass of water, a shadow, a texture or a client job.

The thrill, the rush, a motor drive moment. Quiet contemplation, a single frame of brilliance. A photographer is born. If you are like me, photography is a driving passion in my life. A dream, but also a reality.

All it takes is planning and a few visual hours a day to create magic.

My visual style is distinctive after many years of creating images daily. We all copy, but with a bit of direction, you should work towards your unique style. Photography is an asset in our current visual marketing world. It is creatively fulfilling and quick to produce the photography you love in the comfort of your home or workspace. You don’t need the latest fanciest camera or phone. Use what you have and work into a photography habit.

Photo moment 1

What is the most important thing to do before you start?

Your idea. 

Before you start setting up and getting your photo setup ready, plan your vision. Do you want to photograph food or still life? Do you want to photograph your idea indoors or outdoors? Do you want the look and feel to be a soft light image or a hard shadow light image? Will you use sunlight or another light source? These are all key aspects to decide on before you set up your photo. 

My idea. 

A shot of water. A colourful surface. I will photograph the setup in the afternoon sun working with sunlight and shadows. A picture of water in the sun photographed on a bright surface using direct sunlight. I bought a colourful piece of paper, poured water in a shot glass, placed it outside on a table and waited for the sun to be in the right position before I snapped the bright shadowy photo. You can adjust the exposure on a camera or a phone to avoid an overexposed still life photo.

Feel free to ask me any photography questions.


Photo moment 2

Let’s start with lighting. These tips are a basic introduction to lighting.


Side lighting is light that lights the subject from one side. The angle of this light depends on where you place the subject. If you use artificial lighting, the light source will light from one of the subject sides. Sidelight 

illuminates one side stronger, resulting in strong shadows on the unlit side.

Sidelight is flattering for still life and food photography resulting in an easy on the eye, pleasant visual experience. If you study food photographers, you will notice that almost all food photographers use sidelight for most of their lighting. An easy way to understand sidelight is to place your object next to a window. The natural light washes over the subject to cast a shadow on the darker side. Play around with portraits and your setup to find the sidelight angle that makes you happy.

Feel free to ask me any photography questions.


Photo moment 3

Soft Light

Dry Martinis are my new favourite weekend drink. It blends a feeling of simplicity and abundance. Precisely what I enjoy on a Saturday, taking the day easy, floating along, working and dreaming in soft light.

Soft lighting is lighting without any hard shadows. It is balanced lighting with a smooth transition between light and dark. There are hardly any shadows visible. A better word to describe soft lighting is diffused light. You can photograph Soft light photographs on a cloudy and overcast day or in a shadow area. 

It is beautiful light for photographing portraits and less dramatic food and still life photographs. Soft light can be moody, perfect for storytelling photographs. 

Feel free to ask me any photography questions.

Photo moment 4

Direct Light

It is healthy to drink water in the morning before having coffee. Seeing that we are in an alcohol ban, make it exciting and shoot some water.

Hard light or direct light is focused bright light. In hard lighting, the transition between the light and the dark is very intense and defined. Hard lighting cast a strong shadow. 

Think of Hard light on a sunny day; the sun shines directly onto an object. Directional light creates a sharp contrast between light and shadow. The best way to describe this lighting style is to see the strong shadow fall behind your subject. The light shines over your shoulder directly onto your subject in the same direction as your lens. Many beauty photographers use Hard and direct lighting techniques. 

Feel free to ask me any photography questions.

Photo moment 5


Backlighting to me is the single malt whiskey in your favourite crystal glass, complex but beautiful with a long lingering glow.

Using backlight in photography involves positioning the main light source for a photograph behind the primary subject. A more straightforward way to describe backlighting is to see how the person’s or still life shadow fall towards your camera lens. Many portraits and fashion photographers use backlighting to create a strong visual effect. The effect of backlighting is striking and dramatic. I love using backlighting. The use of backlight makes beautiful sunset or flashlight light moments silhouetting a model or subject. 

To be comfortable using backlight in your photography, you will have to experiment. Mastering the use of backlighting will create photos with depth, dramatic and evocative photography. It might not be the best lighting for food photography. This lighting style is a useful technique when shooting outdoor portraits. It is an excellent use of natural low light. This lighting style is moody and full of flair. 

Play around and create your desired lighting style. 

I help clients create colourful visuals and write punchy stories. If you want help with your content and photography, please send me a mail to chat.

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Francois Pistorius

I create visual content and write punchy words for your brand.