How Did They Light That?

One of the best ways to learn more about light is by studying others' photos. In this class we’ll figure out how photographs were lit and give some tips on what it might take to recreate that particular look.
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As photographers expand their shooting skills, they usually want to learn more about light. How to see it, use it and control itOne of the best ways is to look at what others have done by studying their photos. The clues are there in the photos you admire, but until you have an understanding of how light is affected by location, environment, tools, techniques and settings it’s hard to figure out what goes into an image by just looking at it. 

In this class we’ll look at photos that you and your fellow students submit ahead of time. The instructor will help you figure out how it was lit and give some tips on what it might take to recreate that particular look. This could include work from any genre of photography and by any photographer – if the light captured your attention then let’s take a look at why! If you have shots of your own that didn’t turn out as you thought, include a couple of them and we’ll talk about what might have helped. Sometimes we’ll discover that images you’re curious about are actually composites of two or more photos, which is why they might look impossible to create. By learning to see the light in photos you’ll train yourself to see the light when you’re on location or in the studio.

We’ll look at the many ways that light can be used creatively:

  • How to use reflected light to create pleasing, soft portraits when the light is harsh and unforgiving. 
  • Getting great product shots with a clean, white background without expensive equipment.
  • Creating catchlights to make someone’s eyes stand out in a portrait.
  • Easy tips for improving your food photography.
  • Understanding the difference between light that is interesting instead of just even.
  • How to read the reflections and shadows in an image for clues of how it was lit.
  • Learning how to “get lucky” by being in the right light at the right time.

We’ll dig into some techniques and equipment: 

  • The differences and similarities between daylight, strobe and continuous.  
  • Why LEDs can be awesome as long as you understand white balance and CRI.
  • How to get the best out of natural light indoors and outdoors.  
  • Why it can be hard to mimic sunlight with strobes and how to make that work. 
  • When multiple sources of light might have to be added to get a desired look or effect. 
  • When to use a reflector, softbox, mirror or umbrella to get the light and look you want. 
  • You’ll learn how to document your lighting setups, whether indoor or outdoor, natural or artificial, to learn what you did and help recreate it in the future. 
  • Well review some online tools to help you sketch out lighting diagrams and preview lighting effects.

  • Cost per person is $45 early registration, $55 late registration.
  • Login in to the Zoom meeting at least 15 minutes before the class starts to become familiar with the program and work out any technical issues that may occur.
  • Class starts promptly at 7:00pm and lasts until 9pm.
  • Advance registration and payment is required.
  • Maximum number of students is 15.
  • Each attendee will receive instructions for submitting up to 5 images of their own or that they’ve seen online. Depending on the number of students, the instructor may choose fewer than 5 per person to review 


Q: How will the online sessions be different from being in the classroom?
A: Like in the classroom, the instructor will go through the images that were submitted and provide feedback and encouragement. Using Zoom, he will share his screen so that participants will see what image is being reviewed and be able to offer constructive critiques themselves.

Participants will need a microphone to be able to be heard in the Zoom session. Most computers have a built-in microphone already. You can also login to the review using your phone.

We encourage you to use a webcam to join the Zoom class! It will help us feel connected and engaged, even though we aren’t all in one place. It’s so much better to see your fellow photographers than just a list of names. Also, getting ready to show up for an online class like you’d get ready to drive to a classroom helps to break out of the isolation of social distancing.

Q: Do I have to live in North Texas to take the online classes?
A: No! Have you always wanted to take a photography class with your friend or family member but you aren’t in the same location? This is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill with a buddy near or far.

Q: How, what size, where do I submit my images?
A: All of that information is on the “Online Reviews” tab.

Q: How will I know if the class makes or not?
A: If the class doesn’t make and has to be canceled, you will receive an email no later than the day before the scheduled class date.

Q: What if I have to cancel an online class?
A: If you cancel 3-7 days ahead of the scheduled date of the class, you will receive 100% transfer credit toward another similar class within 3 months of the cancellation date. There is no refund or transfer credit for cancellations within 48 hours of start time of the class or workshop. Full details on cancellations are on our Policies page.

Peter Poulides

Peter is the director of Dallas Center for Photography and teaches several of the classes and workshops. In over 30 years of shooting assignments for national magazines and corporate/stock photography he’s learned a few things and likes to pass it on. His favorite student review is “You remember what it’s like to not know”.

He also works one-on-one with clients to further particular shootings skills, organize their photos with Lightroom or work on projects like books and exhibitions. He still shoots occasional commercial jobs but is busy with personal book projects and running the expanding DCP.

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