What Is Rim Lighting And How Can I Use It As An E-commerce Photographer?

Sep 18, 2023 | 0 comments

Today we are going to explore a slightly different aspect of lighting that doesn’t get mentioned as frequently, yet has some fantastic uses for product photographers or those working for a packshot studio.

The lighting technique we’re exploring is rim lighting and how it can be used by a product photographer. Firstly, it is important to explore when exactly a professional should use rim lighting and then we want to provide a brief summary of the tools that can be used to help create rim lighting. By the end, we hope you have developed an insight into this useful technique and how it may improve your own work.

When should we use rim lighting?

Ultimately, the purpose behind rim lighting is to allow a product photographer to distinctly separate the subject and the background in the shot. This is done by ensuring there is a significant light source behind the shot’s subject, creating a kind of halo around that person or product.

If we go a little further, there are four key reasons why a product photographer or packshot studio may decide to use rim lighting as part of their lighting design.

To add depth and separation

As we highlighted in the introduction to this section, rim lighting enables a product photographer to easily separate the background and the subject. This makes it easier to create depth to the image and ensures the subject doesn’t get lost in the background and other props.

To add drama to a product

Some brands may be associated with more mysterious or dramatic themes, as opposed to lighter concepts. The use of a rim light enables you to create more dramatic lighting, building the atmosphere and telling a better story.

To enhance the silhouette

In much the same way as rim lighting adds drama, it can help enhance the silhouette and this is a great way to create a more striking image. For example, if you’re a packshot studio or product photographer working in jewellery, you may want your model to stand out.

To add additional interest

You can highlight a particular feature or tell a specific story with your product images and rim lighting offers a way to do this. It may help to highlight the shapes of the product or model, enhancing key selling points.

What tools can be used to create rim lighting?

There are some great tools out there to help you create rim lighting and more importantly control the direction and spill of that lighting. As a product photographer and packshot studio, this is key to delivering high-quality shots. Some of the tools include:

  • Barn Doors: Very common tools that fit many styles of lighting in packshot studios. These flaps can be folded to ensure light doesn’t spill and offer a degree of direction.
  • Grids: Availability in metal, plastic or fabric, each does a slightly different job but they are a great way to help reduce light spread.
  • Snoots: These are often conical in shape and fit over light heads to narrow down the beam of your lighting.

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