Photography seniors advance their work with cinematic lighting

Cinematic lighting goes beyond creating sets with dramatic lighting and yelling “action.” The techniques require more precision than still photography; the lighting and exposures need to be exacting and consistent. There’s more use of light meters, half stops and third stops. There’s a lot from it that photography students can add to their toolbox.

Thomas Giarraffa and Steven Molina Contreras

Prof. Ron Amato teaches cinematic lighting for Photography and Related Media. BFA seniors take it as part of his Advanced Photography and Video Workshop.  He helps his students add to their skills to provide additional options for their work.

Prof. Amato and Sarah Abouelker

“The goal of the course,” says Amato, “is to give seniors a laboratory to experiment with techniques and technology they might want to use for their Senior Design Projects,” he says.

Sarah Abouelker

Amato directs his students’ attention to the work of photographers like Gregory Crewdson, Alex Prager and Tim Walker who are known for their staged, tableau images.

“We start the exercise by looking at photographs we identify as having a cinematic feel. While I scroll through the photographs, students build a list of attributes to describe what makes the photographs ‘cinematic’” says Amato.

Jean Miller and Cathrine McWilliams
Jean Miller and Cathrine McWilliams

Some of the attributes identified during the exercise, he says, are mixed light sources, pockets of highlight and shadow, color variance and saturation, and, most importantly, narrative.

Prof. Amato, Jean Miller and Cathrine McWilliams

“I fill the room with a range of light sources with different light qualities and color balances. I give them a scenario like a party scene or card game and we begin to build the lighting. The goal is for it to be believable but also a little fantastical” says Amato.


For information about the Photography AAS and BFA majors go to Photography at FIT

Photos used with permission.

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