The Newest Lighting Trend: Bisexual Light

Is it possible to portray sexuality on camera with a light setup? A new rising trend of bisexual lighting shows us how this is done.

Note: the above video contains sexuality and language.

The two colors that make up the bisexual pride flag are a deep blue and magenta. These colors are now being used in lighting video and photos to show bisexual vibes to viewers. The trend recently picked up popularity with the release of Janelle Monáe's newest music video, titled “Make Me Feel.” The colorful light setup is used in several different ways throughout the song, from subtle to vivid. People have been sharing examples of the lighting style being used in other films, photos, and different visual art forms all over social media.

All you need to pull this meaningful light setup off is a blue light on one side and a pink on the other. To make your lights these colors, you can use gels or some other form of color-modifying material. In Monáe's video, the bisexual color theme is also thoughtfully placed in the wardrobe and set design. Since seeing this lighting trend pop up, I am noticing it is used pretty often in some of my favorite shows and films. Have any of you tried this setup already or any other that convey specific themes and moods in your work, such as sexuality? 

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40 Comments

Fucking hell... I know we can assign meaning to colors in art work put pinning blue and pink to bisexuality in lighting is just hogwash...

We're a couple of years away from having 19 different lighting genders.

Oh man. We now have to worry about two colors on the color wheel sending an unintended message? Really?

james aitcheson's picture

I'm not big on the lighting but damn it's soo nice to hear Prince's "sound" live on! He wrote the synth for this song and I tried like hell to pay attention to the lighting but couldn't stop thinking about the musical genius in the music.

Really? so Bladerunner is about Bisexual Angst? This is another attempt to pigeon hole a category and stereotype a group, Hollywood and photography have other methods to show bisexual behaviour dating back to the 1930/40s.

This is people looking to a reason behind colours that use colour theory to look good together.

William Howell's picture

Bi-sexy lighting isn’t edgy enough for me, (sniff), I prefer BDSM lighting, with a little anal glow in post.

Bwhahahahahahaha!! EXCELLENT!!!!

I prefer tri-sexual light RBG

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Haha that's awesome

Elinchrom Quadra makes quadrisexual light

Han Seoul-Oh's picture

actually, bisexual lighting is a single light that can go both ways.

michael buehrle's picture

good thing no one said black and white lighting............................

Krzysztof Kurzaj's picture

"Is it possible to portray sexuality on camera with a light setup? A new rising trend of bisexual lighting shows us how this is done."

As far as I understand, that's not exactly what the term is trying to imply. This particular SPLIT TONING (because that's what it is) became recently popular in both photography and cinematography. Aside from the fact blue and magenta represent interesting dualism (not necessarily sexual) it's for the most part 'monkey see-monkey do' type of situation where everyone seems to be on a roll to exploit this neat visual trick until it becomes passe. And then someone noticed "Hey this looks exactly like colors from bisexual pride flag". So much for bisexual aspect. I'm pretty sure there was no intention of hinting John Wick was queer when such light setup was used in several scenes of the movie.

As for the video I really think it must be all that bare skin, seductive dancing, choice of apparel and the fact that Janelle declares herself as bisexual. Lighting is just a cherry on the top and quite possibly has symbolic meaning in this case.

David T's picture

How is this split toning and not split lighting?

Krzysztof Kurzaj's picture

Good question but split lighting refers rather to the type of lighting setup where subject is only partially illuminated. Split toning refers really more to a post process where different color toning is used for highlights and shadows and I would say it's a better choice of terminology in this case. I'm not going to insist on it thou :)

David T's picture

The highlights and shadows have different colors tho. In any case, yeah split toning is in post and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the video and the examples posted.

Spy Black's picture

I see we're having a grand 'ol time here...

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Always a grand time here

Can anyone write a post and it gets posted? This post is laughable. Anyone who would write such a thing is either ignorant, self important, or a troll. Maybe all 3. This technique has been around forever. You want to co-opt it for your identity politics? Ok. But unless the gaffer or cinematographer directly says this is case you can't go claiming there is underlying method to split toning whether it is in lighting or in post.

Hype Williams ran this style into the ground in the 90's.

Krzysztof Kurzaj's picture

Clearly the technique is not new and in next 20 years someone will probably come up with another name for it like Frankenstein Lighting or whatever.
My issue is rather with assumption that this recently coined term would suggest the technique is making a given scene more sexual in reception.

Jonathon Rusnak's picture

I tried my hand at dad bod hetero lighting for quite sometime. Never had much luck with it. All my shots were completey under exposed.

michael buehrle's picture

you need to wear less for more exposure.

Jonathon Rusnak's picture

Next time I'll have my snoot handy.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Haha this is hillarious

Jeff Walsh's picture

This is old news, the newest way to light is amorphous gender-fluid. I was shooting the other day and suddenly my lights became vegan Savannah Tigers. It was crazy

Pete Whittaker's picture

... and as I watched the sun dip below the horizon, the splendid pinks of the clouds in compliment to the pale blues of the sky, I wondered if the sunset knew it was, somehow, an expression of human sexuality.

Anonymous's picture

I prefer bisexual exposures, when you favor blowing both the highlights and shadows...

Nothing is more bisexual than lighting with Profoto B-series.

Jay Jay's picture

Agreed. We all know what’s that “B” stands for

Bullshit. 40 years lighting Movies and TV, trust me, light is just light. You can put a freak in the picture, splash a couple of colored lights on it and try to call it anything you want. Bisexual? HaHaHaHaHa!! Nope.

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