8 lighting tips to improve your photography

8 lighting tips to improve your photography

Recently I was invited to a ‘digital photography masterclass’ event for bloggers being held by Viking at the Botanist in Newcastle upon Tyne. Viking is part of Office Depot and as well as a wide range of stationary supplies, they sell printers, photo paper and ink. At the class, commercial photographer Elouisa Georgiou took us through the fundamentals of photography. I’ve focussed on the lighting tips she gave us since I think they are pretty important to getting a fab shot.

The importance of lighting in photography

If you are using a camera or if your phone has the option, get out of P/Auto mode and shoot in manual. Having greater control of your images means better photos.

Shutter Speed

This is how fast the shutter captures your image. To stop motion, you will need a higher shutter speed number, to capture motion you will need to shoot at a lower shutter speed number to create blur. But remember, a faster/higher shutter speed means less light is being let into the camera.


The lower the ISO, the less sensitive the sensor it is to the light, the higher the ISO the more sensitive your camera is to light. For clear and less ‘grainy’ photos with as much detail as possible, we always want to shoot at the lowest ISO possible.


Also known as the F-stop, the aperture controls the depth of field, i.e. the amount of subject you will have in focus in the foreground/background of an image. A wide aperture (f/2) or low F-stop has a softer focus of the background, letting more light in as well as creating a bokeh (blur) to the background. A narrow aperture (f/22) or a higher F-stop has more in focus in the background and lets less light in.

Getting a clear and attractive image is about balancing all three of these without sacrificing one another. If you have time but not a great amount of light, opt to use a tripod so you can shoot at a slower shutter speed to capture your image without the motion blur.

Lighting tips

Natural light is always your friend. But be aware of the ambient light in the room that can play with the colour balancing of your image or influence the shot.

  • Turn off or block out any ambient lighting in the room.
  • Use natural reflectors in the room. If you do not have anything you can use to hand, use white, light or shiny surfaces. Plain pieces of paper will work well. Foam boards are a cheap and versatile piece of equipment to help bounce light.
  • If the lighting is too strong, harsh or windows are too big, use a sheer curtain or thin sheet to diffuse the lighting.
  • If you don’t have enough light available to you, use a tripod so you can shoot slower.

Want some more tips from a top photographer? Find out how to take awesome photos of your kids using your smartphone!


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