Lighting & Why You Need to Care.

How Lighting Can Increase Credibility and Authority

LIGHTING SHOULD NOT BE NEGLECTED

Photography and videography can play a major role in a company’s search engine optimization (SEO), marketing efforts, and credibility. Unfortunately, many people who create these types of content overlook a key factor that can result in the exact opposite outcome they’re hoping to achieve.

LIGHTING AND CREDIBILITY

So why would lighting increase a company’s credibility? The answer is pretty simple, as humans, we’re exposed to hundreds of thousands of images every month. In fact, according to Forbes, we are exposed to roughly four-to-ten thousand advertisements per day. This number honestly isn’t as shocking as it may seem on the surface since every day we drive past buildings with adverts in the windows, billboards, commercials on YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc, apps with advertising banners or embedded commercials, and much much more. As a direct result, we have been exposed to professional quality photography and videography everywhere we turn. We may not consciously be aware of this fact, but we are aware of instances where the quality falls off.

Most of the time if you see an advertisement as you drive down the street, you’ll ignore it. This is fairly commonplace. There are times when one catches your eye, and the reason for that is likely one of two things. Either there was really thoughtful lighting that caught your eye. Whether it was a picture of an object or a person. Or, it was god-awful lighting. Typically when this happens, you’ll hear someone say something like, “jeez look how awful that **fill in the blank** looks.”

There’s no doubt that you’ve seen bad lighting and been affected on some level by it. The next time that you’re in a grocery store checkout line, take a look at the tabloid magazines on the rack. You’ll almost certainly see an image of some beautiful pop-culture figure in the most unflattering light ever, with a caption talking about his or her complete fall from attractiveness. Of course, this is nonsense, and shouldn’t be taken seriously in the least. However, look at the image and you’ll see just how impactful bad lighting can be. Now ask yourself, are the images of you, your staff, your storefront, etc. taken in a flattering way? If not, let’s discuss further.

Let’s first talk about what good lighting looks like, and why we’ve come to expect it. There are quite a few different lighting techniques that professionals use. Each technique is chosen carefully in order to communicate the desired message or feeling. Let’s look at a few examples:

BUTTERFLY LIGHTING

In the image below of the beautiful Audrey Hepburn, you’ll notice the shadow that appears just below the point of the nose (as highlighted in the image on the right). This shadow vaguely resembles a butterfly. This lighting technique was also known as Paramount lighting. The Paramount movie production company frequently used this technique to light their more glamorous actresses.

It’s also important to note that the lighting eliminates shadows below the eyes. Because the cheekbones and brow-bones surround our eyes, it’s very easy to accidentally create raccoon-ish shadows below the eyes, creating a tired and less attractive image.

Images taken using Butterfly or Paramount lighting can instantly increase their appeal. While it may seem unnecessary, just think about how good the hamburgers look in a commercial for a fast food chain, compared to reality. The way you, your products, or your staff are presented to the world makes a big difference.

REMBRANDT LIGHTING

During the Dutch Golden Age, the famous painter developed a style of lighting and shading his subjects in a way that is still used in painting, photography, and in videography to this day. When a light source is positioned correctly (45º from the subject with a top-down angle) the light will illuminate one side of the face entirely, roll up over the nose and then immediately fall into shadow. Then, the shadow will give way to a triangular patch of light. This triangular patch of light is the telltale sign of the Rembrandt Lighting technique.

The Rembrandt lighting technique is used in so many places that it’s hardly worth listing. What’s important to note is that it’s a method that we see so frequently in our day-to-day life, that we don’t realize how effective it is. This lighting technique is used so often because it creates both a dramatic and ordinary look. Whether there’s an intent to be taken seriously, or simply just to be viewed as professional, Rembrandt’s triangle has you covered.

Take a look at some of the examples below of how this lighting can be used in a dramatic and professional capacity:

OH HOW DRAMATIC

The image above really captures how dramatic this lighting can be. We see truly dark black shadows with an emphasis on contrast in the triangular shape created under the eye. This can be an incredibly effective lighting technique when marketing items that may have an edginess to them. Especially with this level of contrast.

WELL AREN’T YOU DAPPER

Showcasing your best features, whether you’re a famous actor or a business owner can move the marketing needle forward in a big way. When an image or a video is poorly lit, we tend to write it off. We trust our eyes much more than we should, and when an image says, “I’m important” that’s what people will take away.

BE THE AUTHORITY

When you look at the image above, it can give you a sense that the individual knows what he’s talking about. There’s something strong in this image that makes one believe that whatever he’s telling the interviewer is important and should be carefully considered. While you may not think it’s the lighting that’s creating that feeling, you may be surprised just how much it plays a role in the way we perceive people.

BE THE AUTHORITY

We are drawn to lighting like moths. We may not know what it is that’s dragging us towards an image, but we know when an image is dragging us in. Usually, we chalk it up to the eyes. “His eyes are so piercing.” “It’s like he’s staring into my soul.” Ask yourself the following, why do his eyes draw you in? If his eyes were shrouded in dark shadows, this wouldn’t have the same level of engagement; as we will see in the next section.

WHAT DOES BAD LIGHTING LOOK LIKE?

While we could speak all day on every type of lighting technique in existence, it should be clear now that there are in fact lighting strategies that are used by professionals to create a very specific look and feel. Lighting makes you and your company look professional and credible. When your company appears credible, your likelihood of converting leads to clients can increase significantly. When your company appears amateurish on the other hand… Let’s take a look at an example of good versus bad lighting so that you can make a more informed decision as you move forward.

The image below is from a very reputable and well-respected videographer who posts instructional lighting videos on YouTube. Take a look at the difference between the two images. You will notice that in the image on the left there are dark shadows around the eyes. These shadows make it almost impossible to see the shape of the iris. It almost appears as though he has two black holes where his eyes are supposed to be. Simple things like a catchlight (the little white reflection you can see in the eyes) create a sense of life. Without these catchlights, our subject appears, well… Lifeless.

Notice also, that in the image on the left, the subject’s shirt and the background aren’t in stark contrast with one another. In other words, the colors are too similar and don’t create a sense of separation between the subject and the background. It’s these small things that when taken into consideration can make a world of difference.

HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT BUSINESS?

If you’ve spent time and effort on your business, which I’m sure you have, you’re going to want to make sure that when your prospective clients get to your doorstep, they don’t just leave because of the impression they get from your company’s visual appeal. You’re going to want to do whatever you can to put your best foot forward wherever and whenever possible.

Content creators will tell you that “content is king.” They’re not wrong, but the saying should read, “quality content is king.” There are likely dozens of companies in your area that are in the same industry as you, and as mentioned in our previous article becoming the authority in a given field, or on a certain matter will take additional effort.

At The Grey Matter, we work really hard to make sure that your company stands out from the rest. It’s our dedication to the small details like lighting that set us apart from our competition. We hope that you’ve found some value in this article, and we hope that you will reach out to us if you ever have questions.