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What is flat lighting and how can we use it

  • Tutorials
  • 19/04/19

What is flat lighting and can it be a good thing?
Simply put, it has to do with the very little contrast between the highlights and the shadows in a scene. It, therefore, has a very two-dimensional look. Is this a bad thing? no, not necessarily. It’s all about how you work with it. Flat light occurs due to the image being very evenly lit and id different to soft light versus hard light which is the transition of light from highlight to shadow.
Overcast days create flat lighting and so does direct flash and is often used in beauty shots and also some documentary photographers. If you want to use flat light to your advantage you need to really study the light if outdoors and chose the right day and time of day more importantly. White cloud cover will give you flat light. You can add dramatic lighting if you want to in flat lighting conditions by popping a speed-light off camera and creating highlights and shadows to add depth and interest.

The great thing with being based in London is that we often have flat light conditions and we discuss these lighting conditions on both our Portrait Photography Course and also our Street and Documentary Photography Course.