Lighting for dark skinned actors


(William E. Spear) #1

Pre-production for a short film and web series is moving forward. With respect to our cast of dark skinned actors, we are putting focus on lighting. Might there be experiences to share on this area? DIY perspectives are especially appreciated. Thanks.


(Gavin Fletcher) #2

Hey, new to the site but I think I can help. There was an article on Tumblr I came across where the Director of Photography of Insecure specifically wrote about lighting people of color. Here goes a link but just Goolge “Insecure Lighting”


(William E. Spear) #3

Hello Gavin @BeastDatBoss and welocome - Thanks for the information. I’ve read and seen interviews with Ava Berkofsky from INSECURE and her conepts are invaluable. The next steps for me are implementing her approach within a limited budget of DIY. Thanks.


(Emma Drewry) #4

If you’re still trying to figure it out, one of the things my low budget production found useful for lighting our darkest skinned actress was bounces. Making sure all angles were lit was important, because we found that if we lit too heavily from one angle some of her features would be lost, which was definitely not what we wanted! When we used a bounce we got the best results, especially with ensemble scenes where we had to balance several skin tones. We also DIY’d our bounces when we needed multiples, which typically involved smooth white poster boards, which bounce light surprisingly well! Shiny fabric stretched over plain cardboard also works well :slight_smile:


(Emma Drewry) #5

We also used lots of tiny lights on our set, which worked well for us because it meant we could get super flexible with angles to make sure our actors’ features were well lit :slight_smile: (Ours were LED lights from Amazon, cost $20-30 for a set of 4 + gels)


(William E. Spear) #6

Hey, Emma @alwaysafilmgeek - Thanks for your input and feedback. Both are appreciated. Bouncing light from angles will part of the production process. And the white poster board a ds helped, too. How did you mount the bounces? Thanks!


(William E. Spear) #7

Do you remember the lights/LEDs you used?


(Emma Drewry) #8

These ones! they’re good for what you pay for-- i will say we did get one defective light bc it broke while shipping, but hopefully that won’t happen! we ended up ordering them twice, and we got dozens of gels and 8 lights for $40 :slight_smile: https://www.amazon.com/Neewer-Photography-Lighting-Transparent-Shooting/dp/B07BXTJHB6/

we also never actually mounted our bounces, iirc-- we had a very narrow set and often needed the flexibility that only a short person under a desk can provide :flushed:


(William E. Spear) #9

Thanks for the product information and how you used them; both are appreciated. Best of luck with your productions.


(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #10

I know exactly what you’re talking about. I think I found it.

https://petapixel.com/2017/09/14/look-hbos-insecure-lights-black-actors/


(Emma Drewry) #11

You as well!


(William E. Spear) #12

Thanks; I’ve watched that half a dozen times.


(Evie Marie Warner) #13

i have one dark skinned actor on this production. I have 6 softbox lights. Might have the money to get the lights mentined by @alwaysafilmgeek when our crowdfunding in ends. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0050K3DW2/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_3?smid=A2ISCC5HPW8KU9&psc=1

I have a white actress that I dont’ like how it made her brown hair look or her skin look while filming on a green screen. Still001|690x388
Do you think we will encounter problems with appropiatly lighting my dark skinned actor if all we have is those softbox lights and some reflexers? What are some challenges I might have with lighting when I have to dark skinned actors in a scene but one is more dark complected then the other? I think issues pop up specificly when you try to do any color correcting and you are trying to get each actor to have a constant skin tone in each scene. Am I correct?


(William E. Spear) #14

Evie - Thank you for your experience and questions; both are appreciated. I defer to others for their insight.