Three-Point Lighting

What is Three-Point Lighting?

Three-Point Lighting is a standard method used in visual media such as video, film, still photography and computer-generated imagery. It is a simple but versatile system which forms the basis of most lighting. The technique uses three lights called the key light, fill light, and back light.

Understanding the Key Light, Fill Light and Back Light

Key Light

The key light is the main light. It is usually the strongest and has the most influence on the look of the scene. It is placed to one side of the camera/subject so that this side is well lit and the other side has some shadow.

Fill Light

The fill light also comes from a direction side-on to the subject. Its role is to fill the shadows created by the key. It is often softer and less bright than the key light. To achieve this, you could move the light further away or use some sort of diffusion.

Back Light

The back light is placed behind the subject and lights it from the rear. Rather than providing direct lighting (like the key and fill), its purpose is to provide definition and subtle highlights around the subject’s outlines. This helps separate the subject from the background and provide a three-dimensional look.

Benefits of Three-Point Lighting

  • Depth and Dimension: Three-point lighting can give your subject more dimension. By properly using three-point lighting, you can illuminate the scene from multiple directions and create shadows that can add depth to your shot.
  • Control: With three lights, you have control over the balance of light on your subject. You can adjust the intensity of each light to control exactly how bright or dark your subject appears.
  • Versatility: You can adjust and move the key, fill, and back lights to create different moods and looks. This makes three-point lighting a very versatile tool.


Mastering the three-point lighting technique is a fundamental skill that can greatly improve the quality of your videos. Whether you’re a professional filmmaker, video editor, or you’re just starting out with your YouTube channel, understanding how to use key, fill, and back lights can help you create more professional and visually appealing videos.

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