Easy 2 Point Interview Lighting

Steven Heller Tutorials 0 Comments

Looking for a quick summary of the following info? Scroll to the bottom for the TL;DR version.

When I was learning about interview lighting (as I always still am), I would hear about 3 point lighting all the time. I didn’t often hear about 2 point lighting. Yet, over time as I lit my interviews I found that I gravitated towards two point lighting more and more. Today, I’m going to discuss the lighting setup that I use 90% of the time.

Most often, the rooms I shoot in are pretty evenly lit. Sometimes I cut the lights out completely and use just my lights, but if the room is well and evenly lit, I prefer to leave them up and have them act as a fill. A 3 point lighting setup typically consists of a key light (the main light on your subject, set slightly off to one side), a fill light (set to fill in the other side of their face, set at a lower intensity so as to just remove shadows) and an edge, rim, or hair light (these terms are used interchangeably) to add a light from behind which lights up the edge of your subject separating them from the background. I’m always looking for a quicker, easier way to achieve the same results. I’ve found in nice, evenly lit rooms, the existing light serves as a nice fill, in which case I only need to worry about the key and the edge lights. Check out these two diagrams to get a better idea.

A good dramatic interview lighting setup

This is an example of slightly more dramatic lighting.

A more conservative look for interview lighting

This is an example of more evenly lit interview lighting.

The image on the left is my typical lighting setup depending on the type of shoot. The image on the right is pretty much the same, but I’ve found that for some of my corporate clients, they prefer a little more conservative lighting. Bringing the key light around more to the front can help even out the lighting so it doesn’t feel so dramatic. The ambient room lighting acts as a fill light to add a gentle light to the other side of their face. The edge light in the back serves to add a nice light that is only really seen around the edge of their silhouette, hair and a little on the edge of their face. My two cameras are slightly off axis, with my 2nd camera on a motorized rail system (yes it’s the coolest thing ever, and yes I will cover it in another post).

So what does this look like? Let me show you some screen shots from a shoot I did recently.


A great interview lighting example. The edge/hair light is turned up for demonstration.

Cam A & Cam B with the edge light turned up slightly for demonstration.

This is the image coming from the A and the B cams. I have the edge light turned up slightly for demonstration purposes. I typically start it high and dial it back to taste. As you can see, the face is fairly evenly lit, with just a bit of preference for camera left while camera right shows a bit more shadow. This helps give definition to the face so it won’t feel so flat. This is why the flashes on point and shoot cameras are typically so lackluster. Moving the light source away from the camera is almost always a good idea (though all rules are made to be broken, right?). Let’s take a look at the final shot with the edge light dialed back.

A great interview lighting example

Edge light turned down to show the final shot.

And here is our final shot. I should add, I haven’t adjusted these images other than tweaking the level a little bit for added contrast. They were shot in C-log on the Canon C100 mk i and mk ii. So please don’t hassle me about image quality. Once color corrected, these images will pop.

So, there you have it. A simple 2 point interview lighting setup. Another big factor to consider, which I will cover in another post, is the color temperature of your lights and the ambient light. If they don’t match, your lights will be conflicting and nothing is more of a pain than trying to fix mismatching color temp lights in post. It seldom works out great. So I’ll show you how I recognize and deal with that issue. Please comment if you have any questions or suggestions. I’m learning more and more every day and would love to hear any tips that any of you may have.

2 Point Interview Lighting – TL;DR

Need to setup some quick (but still good looking) interview lighting? In a pinch, use three lights instead of two. One for the key and one for the edge/rim/hair light. Use the ambient room light as fill.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *