How to Back-Light the Subject of Your Video [Reel Rebel #43]

How to Back Light the Subject of Your Video [Reel Rebel #43]

Back-lighting is a way to give your subject a nice, attractive glow--and it can be anything: people, fruits, know, anything.  It should not be confused with background lighting, where you are...I'm not kidding, just lighting the background.  Back-lighting refers to pointing the lights towards your subject from the back, and you can do a lot of cool things with it that Stephen Schweickart is about to lay down for you here in this edition of the Reel Rebel.

Back-Lighting Your Subject to Raise Production Value

Back-lighting is when you light your subject from the back, but the light sources are pointed at the camera's lens.  Background lighting is when you are pointing the light sources at the background itself.

A back-light can also be called a hair light, shoulder light, kicker, or rim light.

3 Reasons to Use Backlighting

1. You can create a 3D feel to your footage and enhance the finer details of your subject by bringing them out and separating them from the backdrop.  Pointing the lights in such a way gives your subject an "angelic" glow, making it more flattering and drawing the viewer's eye to them.  You don't even have to use it on people.  Almost anything will have that glow with this method.

2. You can create epic silhouettes.  Just light your subject and light the background as well.  Skip pointing the lights directly at the subject and let the source highlight the subject's edges.  You'll need to set your camera's exposure to the background and not the subject:

How to Back Light the Subject of Your Video [Reel Rebel #43]

3. Awesome lens flares.  Having your subject in front of a brilliant light source like the sun, while angling the camera in such a way will give you cool-looking lens flares and you can channel your inner J.J. Abrams.  And you can further look more professional by moving in and out of the lens flare with your camera.

There are many reasons why you would back-light a subject, these are just three.  You know any more?  Tell us in the comments down below or go to the watch page and give us your tips.

Don't Miss Out - Join Our VIP Video Marketing Community!
Get daily online video tips and trends via email!

About the Author -
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. He also writes on his personal blog - View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Jill McKeever

    THANK YOU! This was very helpful. I want to use Reason #1 for my casual vlogs.
    I have a small film space (5x5 feet) with a low ceiling to record my cooking videos (my kitchen is galley style). Could you recommend lighting that would fit my area without washing me out? I wish I could draw you picture and you could mark 'X's where I should hang lighting. durnit.