A Guide to Lighting Emotion

Learn how to use light to create emotion in your images.

Light is a powerful tool when it comes to evoking emotion – which is why it’s absolutely crucial to not only understand how to use light, but when and why. To help you understand the importance of lighting emotion, Karl has dedicated an entire show to exploring this topic.

He reviews a number of his images, going into detail about how he lit certain shots, why he lit them that way and why he chose that particular narrative. He also explains how the content, narrative, aesthetic, light and shadow, colour, three dimensionality and post-production techniques can all be used to invoke emotion.

This insightful show is a must-watch for anyone wanting to understand how light and narrative can help set your images apart.

In this class:

  • Photography lighting
  • What makes a good photograph

– Content
– Narrative
– Aesthetic
– Light & shadow
– Colour
– Three dimensionality: Perception, depth and distance

  • How to create emotion in an image
  • The importance of pre-visualisation
  • The impact of colour
  • Using mood boards to build narrative

This live shows refers to a number of example images, many of which are classes on Visual Education. You can see how each of these images were created by following the relevant links.

Fashion photography examples:

Fashion photography class – Fantasy fatale
Fashion photography class – Innocence
Fashion photography class – Falling girl
Fashion photography – Knockout creative techniques
Fashion photography – Future girl
Fashion photography – Clean cut fashion shoot

Portrait photography examples:

Portrait photography class – Simulating sun and shadow
Portrait photography class – Soft, warm & glowing
Live show with Urs Recher

Product photography examples:

Product photography – How to photograph a high-end handbag

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Thanks for making this video on ‘why’ part of an image.
    Designing narrative & lighting for an image – I believe is an ongoing, ever evolving process ( unlike the techniques ) more we observe, discuss better we become.
    I would like to suggest, it will be great if we could have more live shows on this topic.

  2. Karl you are the best! This is what i missed and what im looking for. This is important for me and i think others to improve the photos not only in technic! Maybe you could explain in your upcoming live shoots how you come to the narrativ! That would be again an improvement in your fantastisc shows! Thx Markus

  3. Hi Karl,

    Many excellent points here, thank you. You talk about mood boards quite a lot during this tutorial and others. I have used mood boards myself but I would really welcome a session on how you create an actual mood board, the thought processes that you go through maybe even doing it together with an Art Director so we can see how they would do it too. Then taking it on to how you as the photographer interprets an actual mood board that you receive from an Art Director. Often when working for small businesses I am given the freedom to shoot products as I see fit, mainly because my clients have no ideas themselves. It would be great to know how to lead a client through a mood board creation process so that I could do it with them and improve the client relationship in so doing. Thanks.

      1. +1 for the suggestion. It is first time I hear about mood boards. It would be awesome to have such a great teacher like you to explain it.

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