Ever wondered why professional photos look so much better than your average selfie? Well, it’s all thanks to the magic of three-point lighting! This technique has become the go-to for making subjects look fabulous in still photography.

A closer comparison between professional photography images and a selfie reveals huge differences—for example, much more flattering images and defined features as compared to a smartphone selfie. For this very reason, many still approach and engage the services of photography studios for occasions where a smartphone is less capable of capturing, such as wedding shoots, graduation shoots and corporate photography in Singapore.

So, what’s the secret behind three-point lighting? Three-point lighting makes clever use of three separate positions from which lighting is pointed toward the subject, allowing for the movement of lighting equipment to control the amount and location of shadows cast upon a subject’s face.

The Key Light

Key lights, typically studio lamps strategically positioned to illuminate the subject directly, play a crucial role in shaping the visual aesthetic of a photoshoot. Positioned at an angle, they generate shadows and contours that accentuate specific features, influencing the overall style and design of the photos.

A fascinating outdoor adaptation in three-point lighting involves leveraging the sun as a key light. Some skilled and patient photographers often use the sun as a key light, eliminating the need for extra lighting equipment. Some take it a step further by timing or scheduling shoots to coincide with the sun’s optimal position for a unique and compelling visual impact.

The Fill Light

Positioned at a lower angle and with a sharper tilt compared to the key light, the fill light serves as a gentle counterpart, offering a softer balance to the often strong key light. This provides photographers with control over the extent to which they want to emphasise specific features.

Given that key lights often result in sharp, harsh shadows, the fill light steps in to impart a softer appearance to the subject, contributing to a more “natural” look in the overall composition.

The Backlight

Backlights are what truly complete a shot. With two lamps illuminating the subject from the front and side, there is often a lack of adequate separation between the subject and the background.

Aside from separating the subject from the background, the backlight also helps bring back any contours that may be overshadowed by the fill light. This ensures that the subject’s features remain visible and well-defined in the composition.


Achieving a distinctive professional studio aesthetic in your photos, characterised by expert precision and balanced definition, is a challenging task to replicate using just your smartphone at home. The three-point lighting technique, however, offers studios and photographers the means to accomplish this with exceptional finesse. This technique sets itself apart from amateur and hobbyist photography, providing a level of quality that results in a unique and polished look for images.

For those looking to experience the difference up close and personal, Firefly Photography is one photo studio in Singapore that will enable you to see for yourself the quality images that skilled three-point lighting can produce. With a strong pool of expertise across many types of photoshoots, let Firefly Photography bring forth the best side of you and your loved ones!