Video Basics: How to Use Lighting and Camera Angles in Videos

Video Basics: How to Use Lighting and Camera Angles in Videos

Kayla Graham

It’s not uncommon to hear people say they hate the way they look in videos. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Using the right lighting and camera angles in videos can go a long way when it comes to how your subjects look. They can also impact the mood of the video and the story you’re telling.

Learning a few basics about lighting and angles can make a big difference in your videos—and also how good your subject will feel about being in them.


Lighting Basics

Lighting is paramount when shooting videos. A proper lighting set-up will take your videos from looking amateur to professional. It will provide a more dynamic image, give your subject more dimensions, and allow you to control shadows.

Our eyes sense light differently than a camera lens; cameras need more light to produce quality images than you might think. You also have to consider how shadows might affect your video shoot.

For video production shooting, the most common set-up for lights is three-point lighting: it includes a backlight, a key light, and a fill light.


  • A backlight separates your subject from the background and helps it stand out. This light creates depth and prevents your shot from looking flat. It’s placed behind the subject, so it provides light on the head and shoulders.
  • A key light is the main light and should be the brightest of the three. If you were only to use one light, it would be the key light. It will provide most of the light on your subject.
  • The fill light is the supporting light for the key light and is placed opposite to it. It decreases shadows caused by the key light. A fill light needs to be less intense than your key light so that it can reduce shadows, but it also needs to be not so similar to the key light that it causes the shot to be flat. And if you overflood your subject with light, they won’t have shape or depth.


Camera Angles

There are three standard camera angles used in video production: high angle, low angle, and low level. The camera angles you use can dramatically affect the mood of your videos.

  • A high angle shot is a technique where the camera points down on a subject from above. When this angle is used, it can create a sense of drama, or make a subject appear vulnerable or in crisis. This shot is often used in thriller movies—Hitchcock is famous for them, for example.
  • A low angle shot is the direct opposite of the high angle shot. It’s created when the camera is placed below the eye-line and looks up at a subject or object. It can make a subject look strong and powerful. When you’re filming at a lower level, it can make something appear more significant than it is, so this angle can also increase the perceived height of the subject or object you’re filming.
  • An eye-level shot (also called a neutral shot) is when the level of the camera is the same height as the eyes of the characters in the frame. It’s commonly used in corporate videos as it is flattering and more neutral than high or low-level angles. It can also ground your subjects and make them more relatable and thus easier to connect with for viewers.

Using lighting and camera angles effectively can help you create more engaging videos and make your subject look more flattering. You want your videos to be top quality, so they look like you put in a lot of effort and time. If you use angles and lighting well, the viewer won’t even notice and will be persuaded more successfully.