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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37 Comments

Mr Blah's picture

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...

Alex Kartashov's picture

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

Jim Cutler's picture

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.

Daris Fox's picture

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.

Steven Terblanche's picture

Bwhahahahahahaha!! EXCELLENT!!!!

Mark Houston's picture

I prefer tri-sexual light RBG

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Haha that's awesome

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Elinchrom Quadra makes quadrisexual light

JetCity Ninja'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

Matthew Range's picture

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.

michael buehrle's picture

you need to wear less for more exposure.

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...

Alexander Petrenko's picture

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

Jay Jay's picture

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

C V's picture

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.

Deleted Account's picture

This website has officially jumped the shark. Patrick and Lee you guys should be ashamed of yourselves. What happened to this site? This is exactly what is wrong with the industry now a days. I guess all lee and Patrick care about is making money and dressing like douches

Robert Altman's picture

I have noticed that putting gels on lights are the latest 'fad' - while they can be used creatively taking color theory and aesthetics into consideration most often I believe they are simply thrown on lights to make the uninitiated think the image is hip/current/edgy/creative/artistic... (Brinson and Banks are especially guilty of this IMHO).

Dragan Medakovic's picture

It's because of repetitive nature of the industry.

When we had simple digital cameras we wanted clean images.
Now we have the best digital cameras , you have VSCO, VHS and film simulations and grain.

Every couple of years we see a trend make a comeback by some artist, 80s is the latest hype. Thanks to Weeknd.

Next we will see some Frank Sinatra inspired fashion i guess , and all black and white videos for a year or two.

Dragan Medakovic's picture

Jesus this site is going down fast...

karljohnstonphoto's picture

Beautiful piece

Damian Walls's picture

I think I just got Click Baited.

Steven Barall's picture

Did you mean to post this on April 1st but forget? This is what's called the race to the bottom.

A A's picture

Seriously??? So that is why many airlines e.g. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar Airways (QATAR, a Muslim country!!!) light their First Class cabin and in-flight bar with deep blue and magenta colors???

I thought it was simply because blue and magenta are a classic color combo, and look great in dimly lit bars...

But bisexuality???

Gabrielle Colton's picture

I agree,I'm guessing it wasn't companies intentions when using it in ads such as this Because of the colors of the flag it's turning in to a trend to represent this. It seems to be an effective way to appeal to people of this group though.

Jon Dize's picture

This is nothing but FLAMING disguised as a photographic commentary.

Why are we so willing in this country to accept ridiculousness as legitimate?

I guess most of my Rock Photography is BI-SEXUAL, because I use red and blue gels on my subjects/clients either by remote flashes which are gel'd or capturing the stage lights which are gel'd.

Sometimes the problem with passing off ridiculousness as legitimate or something other than ridiculousness is that people swallow whatever is fed to them and then the entire village becomes ridiculous.

This is just another example of the FIVE MONKEY PSYCHOSIS.

Sorry, but sometimes this crap is just too ridiculous to take seriously.

Nothing against gays or even bi-sexuals, but RED AND BLUE LIGHT IS JUST RED AND BLUE LIGHT. Dramatic yes! Sexual? I've lived too friggin' long.

Oh yeah, a few of my BI-SEXUAL PHOTOS.

Heck, in the photo below he is splashed with RED, BLUE and WHITE light... I guess I will call that my GANG BANG photo.

Yes! It is just that ridiculous to me.

(Yes! He is tack sharp up to 40" x 60", the thumbnail appear soft.)