Doug Lee Pictures

Doug Lee, a Motion Picture Director as well as a Director of Photography, visited my Multimedia Portfolio class this past week. After a quick monologue reaffirming that we ARE storytellers, he took a different approach at teaching – instead of telling us what to do when lighting videos, he told us what not to do.

To summarize, here are 10 things you should definitely not do when lighting:

  1. Place the subject next to the background. Doing so creates a super flat and boring 2D image.
  2. Use hard/un-diffused light, like the ones you see during news broadcasts.
  3. Let your lighting overwhelm your story and your subject – it’s the best way to ruin a mood.
  4. Ignore practical sources of lighting. ALWAYS think of the available light!
  5. Light all parts of the scene uniformly. Doing this eliminates any depth or contrast in an image.
  6. Light the background brighter than the subject. If you do so, all the viewer’s eye will see is the bright area.
  7. Pretend composition and lighting are unrelated – you need to lead your viewer’s eyes. P.S. never forget the rule of thirds!
  8. Ignore color temps. color balance, and color contrast.
  9. Avoid available light.
  10. Avoid planes, doing so will make photos seem 2D.


Lee was also able to give us a good amount of pointers for Interview Lighting, which is probably the most common set up for us in this major.

“Wrap” the light; pop the subject from the background, contrast light and dark on the subject’s face, and always catch light in the subject’s eyes.

  • The shadow side of the subject’s face should be shown towards the camera.
  • Keylight should be on the other side of the interviewer (keylight > interviewer > camera).
  • A white card (or bounce card) is the perfect fill light for interviews.


Girl Boss: Katie Murphy

Katie Murphy: dog mom, entrepreneur, and event planner extraordinaire. What started as a hobby for Murphy in high school grew into a passion and eventually developed into a successful event planning business. “Even from having people over in high school, hosting parties like that, I have just always loved it. So it was something I always wanted to start on my own and do, and have more control over it that way. Kind of create our own path instead of following somebody else’s – it definitely started with passion, that’s what carries me through.” And Murphy really does have total control over it. From packing for weddings and taking out the trash to coordinating design meetings and doing magazine interviews, she does it all. That’s what it takes to be a small business owner. Murphy’s parents, whom she credits for instilling the drive it takes to be an entrepreneur, owned a small business while she was growing up.
I asked Murphy why she chose Sioux Falls to start her small business, was it just our small town charm? “Sioux Falls is so supportive of small businesses… I’m not sure about this year, but in the past couple years, on the Forbes list, like the Forbes List, Sioux Falls is top three for starting your own business, just because of the community I think.” There’s also the fact that Sioux Falls growth has been exploding, not only the downtown businesses but all small businesses. And more specifically, the wedding industry. Murphy said, “the wedding industry has just taken off. I mean I got married four years ago and it was nothing like it is now. There’s more vendors, more trends within. People are really putting time into it… Our generation plays into that too.”
Speaking of our generation, Murphy and I also discussed a topic we know well: social media. In all fields, social media is a force that drives customers to seek out businesses. For weddings and events, platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram are where clients flock to for inspiration. Even though all social media outlets are important for promoting, Murphy ranked the top four for people in a visual design field. Rounding out the bottom is Pinterest, probably the most well-known for DIY inspiration, and as Murphy puts it, “a friend and enemy at the same time.” Topping that is Facebook, a more structured platform targeting an older generation. It’s always going to be important because “parents, they interact on Facebook, so we can’t forget about that.” A step up from the professionalism of Facebook is a blog or website, from the sentence structure to the photos posted, blogs are well thought out. “Blogs are really important,” says Murphy. “People look at those once they have passed the point of ‘I’m interested in this, I want to look at more.” Coming in at number one is Instagram, where the personality of your business gets to shine through, it’s the most interactive. “You can be like ‘hey, what do you think of this color linen with this floral arrangement?’ on the stories. We get much more interaction on there than anywhere else… On Instagram, we are much more playful and quirky.”
As a designer, social media is an important tool to market yourself, but also an essential tool to keep up with the current trends. Murphy believes “always exposing yourself to more ideas, whether you take ten minutes out of your day to Google trends in your design industry… constantly exposing yourself to more, being very open and realizing that everybody’s perception of beauty is different. You are going to have things you love and you like but somebody else is not going to like it. So being able to be flexible in your design, so that it applies to a broad spectrum of people.”
Being fluid is an important trait of a designer, but so is confidence in your work, “I think half of it is confidence,” says Murphy. But the biggest reason Murphy has continued to work with specific designers does not have to do with their design ability, but their response time. “With stationary things–save the dates, invitations, menus, all that stuff– it is pretty demanding on [the designer] because they look at it and go “oh Rochaelle is spelled with an ‘ae’ not an ‘el’” you know, these tiny little things but there is a time crunch to get it done, so I will send her something and she sends it back almost instantly… I know that’s demanding to say, but it’s true.”
To wrap up our interview, Murphy has one more piece of advice for anyone who might read this article –designer or not. “One thing I have learned this year, if I had to put it into one word, it would be perseverance. You are going to hit so many bumps and so many hard times where you are going to want to stop and going to want to quit because I will be honest with you, I have. But just persevere through those, through those moments because the reward is so much more rewarding when you had all that hard stuff to get through.”