Why Shadows Are so Crucial in Photos and Video

We spend a ton of time talking about how to light subjects not only to bring out their features in a flattering way, but to also convey a certain mood or message. But just as important as where you place light is where you do not. This excellent video essay shows you the importance of shadows and how they are used to add depth and meaning to photos and videos. 

Coming to you from Sareesh Sudhakaran with wolfcrow, this excellent video discusses the importance of shadows for conveying depth and meaning (and though the discussion is geared toward cinematography, it applies just as much to stills work). We tend to think of light in an additive manner, starting with a dark scene and adding light to shape the subject. However, thinking of where to take away light can do a ton to sculpt your subject and create mood (after all, this is what dodging and burning does), and it is why you will often see professionals include light-restrictive devices like grids and flags in their work to take more precise control over the rendering and augment whatever mood they are trying to create. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Sudhakaran.

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2 Comments

Chris Rogers's picture

Dude did an excellent job selling me on this movie. Now I want to watch and study it.

Alex Cooke's picture

He’s one of my favorite YouTubers!