How to light two interview subjects with only three lights using cross key lighting

Sep 27, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to light two interview subjects with only three lights using cross key lighting

Sep 27, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

YouTube video

Interviews can be a fun lighting challenge, especially when you need to go back and forth between two subjects; The interviewer and the interviewee. There are all kinds of elaborate lighting setups you can use to light two subjects and have them both looking great on-camera.

Sometimes, though, you’re limited on gear or space or setup time. In this video, filmmaker Rubidium Wu shows us a simple three light setup that gives short lighting on two interview subjects to great effect.

Essentially you have a big soft fill on-axis above your wide camera that covers both subjects, and then a pair of lights behind your subjects off to either side. The two lights behind your subject each act as a short light key for one subject, and as a rim for the other.

Besides requiring very little lighting gear, the other beauty of this setup is that it allows for three different camera angles with a single lighting setup. You’ve got your wide shot covering the whole scene, but then you can have cameras off to either side. A close up for each of the two subjects.

You’ll want to play around with your exact placement, though, to make sure that the lights acting as rims aren’t flaring into the two side cameras.

I’ve heard of the cross key technique before, but it’s not a lighting setup I’ve tried yet. I don’t get too many opportunities to actually light the scene when I do interviews. They’re usually at some show or other using whatever’s already there. But I think I might have to give this a try next time I shoot a sit down interview in a more controlled location.

Rubidium has some other great videos over on his YouTube channel, Crimson Engine. It’s well worth spending a little time there to look around.

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

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

One response to “How to light two interview subjects with only three lights using cross key lighting”

  1. Charles Ross Avatar
    Charles Ross

    I appreciate seeing the immediate results on the faces. This example also places the people just as I want to do. It looks more collaborative than facing straight out and less rigid than facing each other at right angles to the audience. I am still going to have to figure out how to interview two people with 3 different models of camcorders or up the budget significantly to rent at least one matching model for the main camera.