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Brooke Shaden on Lighting: It Doesn’t Have to Be Fancy to Look Good

by Rachel Gregg
featured, photo & video

Who needs diffusion cloth when you have a bare bulb and a piece of paper? Brooke Shaden doesn’t.

Brooke is known for her down-to-earth teaching style and her other-worldly imagery. In Fine Art Compositing she needed to create a light source that mimicked the light on the background she planned to drop her model in and she opted to go basic – very basic.

Believable composites are achieved by matching light levels and angles – in the Fine Art class, Brooke demonstrated that you could create the perfect lighting setup for a composite with very inexpensive gear.

“We’re not working with anything fancy here,” Brooke explained as she asked a student to hold up a cheap Ikea lamp up to counterbalance the window light she was using to light the model’s face.


Want more Brooke? Join her for Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide, October 23 – November 17th. Learn more here.


 When the bare bulb made the light source too obvious, Brooke surveyed the room for a low-tech diffusion option. Brooke accepted two sheets of notebook paper from the woman in the front row. With a little experimenting Brooke got the separation from the background she was looking for not from notebook paper but by using a single tissue – yes the Kleenex kind – and the bare bulb.

“If I were home I would just get a pillowcase or something.”

Once the separation issue was solved she turned to another low-tech solution to cure the drop-off she was getting from the window light: another cheap lamp. Some window light, two lamps with bare bulbs, and a tissue was all she needed to get the effect she was after. Now that is low-tech lighting.

If you want to watch Brooke in action, you can check out the video below or go to the course page for your complete guide to compositing with tips on using fancy and not-so-fancy gear.


Want more Brooke? Join her for Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide, October 23 – November 17th. Learn more here.


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Rachel Gregg

Rachel is the content marketing lead for the CreativeLive Craft Channel. Her side hustle is floral design and her day job is awesome. @ms_gregarious.