Natural and Artificial Lighting: The Basics and Beyond

with Ian Spanier

Online registration for this program has closed. To check availability, find out about future dates, or if you would like further information, please call 505-983-1400 ext. 111. Also, get the SFW E-Newsletter for updates!

Sign-up for the Newsletter:

Course Description

Join lighting master Ian Spanier for a new online educational experiences—a LIVE demonstration workshop spread over two Saturdays in February. Learn to unlock the power of using both natural and artificial light sources to elevate your images as well as building a new skill set. Designed for beginners and experienced photographers alike, this interactive photography lighting workshop dives deep into the art and science of understanding and manipulating light to capture stunning images that leave a lasting impression.

On the first Saturday, Ian focuses on building a solid foundation for understanding natural and artificial light to include:

  • Fundamentals of Light: Lay a foundation by exploring the basic principles of light, its properties, and its impact on photography. Gain insights into the true understanding of light, setting the stage for more advanced concepts.
  • Natural Light Techniques: Delve into recognizing and harnessing the beauty of natural light sources.
  • Artificial Light Sources: Navigate the world of artificial lighting, from continuous light sources to studio strobes. Understand the characteristics of different artificial light sources, their color temperatures, and how to modify and create a signature style to stand out from the crowd.
  • Lighting Equipment Essentials: Explore the wide array of lighting gear available to photographers. Discover how each tool contributes to crafting the perfect lighting setup. Using a light meter, and why it is the essential tool for all photographers.
  • Lighting Techniques and Setups: This demonstration gives you the tools to elevate your skills in more advanced lighting techniques. Dive into high-key and low-key lighting setups, three-point lighting, and Rembrandt lighting. Understand how to shape light to flatter subjects, highlight textures, and create captivating visual narratives.

On the second Saturday, Ian focuses on building a strong knowledge base for on-location studio lighting to include:

  • Introduction to an On-Location Studio: Understand the advantages as well as the challenges of on-location studio setups. Explore different types of on-location shoots and an essential equipment overview.
  • Location Scouting and Planning: Learn how to evaluate locations for different types of shoots. Develop a plan for the lighting conditions and the use of artificial lighting, if required. Ian’s tips and techniques when walking into any location and making the lighting work for you.
  • Lighting Techniques: First Ian reviews using the natural light on a location, then explore the benefits of using strobes and light modifiers. Ian examines portable lighting equipment and finishes with managing challenging lighting situations.
  • Essential Equipment and Setup: Selection and use of backdrops and how to make the best use of what the location offers. Lighting, tripods, stands, and grip equipment essentials. Setting up tethering and wireless communication.
  • Posing and Directing Subjects: Communicating with your subjects for natural poses. Tips for working with models, clients, and non-models.


Both Saturdays include live demonstrations of the topics listed above, delivered in Ian’s relaxed and easy to understand teaching style. As you listen and watch, you have the opportunity to ask questions of Ian.

Whether you are just getting started in photography and eager to grasp the basics of lighting or an experienced photographer looking to refine your lighting expertise, this workshop promises to illuminate your photographic journey like no other online class. By the end of these two Saturdays, you will have a solid foundation in all aspects of natural and artificial lighting and be able to start using these techniques at home with your own gear.

Additional Information

Advanced Amateurs, Professionals
What You Should Know:

No previous lighting experience is necessary.


View Withdrawal and Transfer Policies for online programs.

Lighting, Portraiture
Ian Spanier

Ian Spanier began taking photographs at six years old when his parents gave him his first point and shoot camera. After majoring in photography in college, Ian worked in publishing as an editor, but making pictures never left him. Having only known 35mm, he taught himself medium and large format as well as lighting.

Ian’s first full book of published work, Playboy: The Complete Guide to Cigars, is a collection of his photographs made in six countries spanning two and a half years. His second book project, Local Heroes: America’s Volunteer Fire Fighters, came out to critical acclaim in the Fall of 2012. His personal project, “Right Next Door,” has been featured on Huffington Post as well as The Daily Mail and his latest project, MoTo is now a multi-award winning series.

Ian is a Westcott Lighting “Top Pro,” as well as a Brand Ambassador for Spider Holster, CamRanger, ThinkTank, Hoodman USA, and True Classics. His added affiliations with V-Flat World and Sekonic bolster his reputation as an expert in his field. He lectures regularly for Canon, B&H Photo, and PPA.

Although he works anywhere and everywhere, Ian left NY for the sunny coast, and now lives in Los Angeles.


Instagram: @ianspanier

You May Also Like

SPARK ART: A Creative Workshop for Photographers

with Leanne Trivett S.

November 5 – 22, 2024

Light, Lighting, Lit

with Tony Corbell

November 4 – 22, 2024

The Black-and-White Image

with Carlan Tapp

November 2 – 20, 2024

The Critique Circle: A Six-Week Online Workshop

with Cheryle St. Onge

September 18 – October 23, 2024

The Visual Journal

with Michael Napper

September 14 – October 12, 2024
– Summer Season

A Taste of Santa Fe: Food and Restaurant Photography

with Douglas Merriam

July 22 – 24, 2024

Elevated Perspectives: Exploring Creative Drone Photography

with Rick Berk

September 17 and 19, 2024

The Fine Art of Flat Lay

with Philippa Stanton

September 4 – October 2, 2024

Portugal: A Rich Cultural Tapestry

with Jennifer Spelman

October 3 – 10, 2025

Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice

with Stephen Wilkes

September 15 – 24, 2025

Vietnam: Land of the Blue Dragons

with Jennifer Spelman

April 4 – 15, 2025

Colombia: Colonial Cartagena and Carnival de Barranquilla

with Kike Calvo

February 22 – March 3, 2025