Using One Light for Video Interviews



If you’re like me, you might be making the transition from natural light photography to video, and the idea of video lighting can be intimidating. As part of my business, I often shoot interview-style videos. Today, I want to share with you a simple method for lighting interviews that will let you rest easy so that you can create good light anywhere, anytime.

Before I dive into specifics, I want to share with you why I almost always light my interview videos. When I first started to work in video, I took the same approach to light as I did with photography and that was to primarily use natural light. I learned the hard way that natural light for video interviews works only in two circumstances; a cloudless day, or a completely cloudy day. What happens on most days is that light levels can change from moment to moment.

For photography, you can adjust your settings, or edit your images afterwards to compensate for light changes. But with video, it’s much more difficult to make these kind of adjustments. In the middle of his or her story, you don’t want to interrupt the moment to ask your subject to wait for the clouds to pass. And with video, adjusting gradual exposure and white balance changes during post production is a nightmare.

Another huge advantage of using added light? I can record an interview anywhere I want and am not limited to where I can find natural light. Being limited to working by windows and doors can also mean audio problems with external noise interfering with the interview and causing distractions.

Because I LOVE the look of natural light, I chose to use the Photoflex SilverDome nxt: Large soft box with an LED light. The Photoflex NorthStar LED light is daylight color balanced, so if I want to allow ambient light in my video, color is consistent with available natural light.

The size of this large soft box creates light that looks very much like natural window light. It has a removable inner baffle that softens the light once, then it goes through another diffusion material to soften it again, so you don’t end up with a “hot spot” in the middle. It’s also super easy to set up, so I don’t need to have a lot of time dedicated to prepping my gear on-site.

My lovely assistant Courtney agreed to be my interviewee today. My work is primarily equestrian focused, so I am doing this demo in my barn. When working with one light, I don’t want to put it at too much of an angle from my subject which would create harsh shadows on their face.

I also don’t want it to be too straight on with her face, because light from that angle is a bit flat and boring.

So I set the light up at a slight angle which gives a little dimension to the face, while still keeping the light soft and flattering.

See? Lighting video interviews doesn’t need to be difficult. Once you get used to a single light setup, you can start adding lights for different looks and effects.

Final lighting look:


Written and photographed by Shelley Paulson

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