Doyle, Wazir, and Artificial Light on People’s Faces

In researching the beauty of artificial light, (EYV Part 4, Project 3) I initially looked at Christopher Doyle’s lighting technique in the film: In the Mood for Love (Directed by Wong Kar-Wai 2000), as recommended in the course notes (p83):

I am new to analysing film lighting, but I felt that the use of light to highlight people’s faces had the effect of separating them from their background and consequently emphasising that the film was  a story about people and about their personal experiences. Highlighting the face suggests that this is a film about emotions and feelings. Below is a still, taken from the film, which shows the light highlighting the man’s face while he is engaged in the ordinary activity of eating, and consequently making it significant. Eating alone is a recurring image in the film.


Image 1: In the Mood for Love

I was interested to learn that Doyle was also the cinematographer behind the film Psycho.

I include a link here to the film’s trailer. I was struck by the similarities, despite the very different genre.

I particularly liked the use of this image (below) in the trailer. The composition and viewpoint and the hard directional lighting all emphasise the horror, the character’s power over his victim, and the feeling of menace and fear.


Image 2

Next, I looked at a short film on vimeo, recommended to me by my brother in law. This film may be more appropriate to study in terms of ‘studio’ lighting,  but I felt that to include it here, highlighted the effect of lighting in photography and film making, and mirrored the effects in the Doyle films.

This short film uses what appears to be different coloured lights moving in a circular path around the woman’s face. Such is the effect of the different angles of light that her face and hair appear to be moving even when they aren’t. This technique conveys feeling and emotion, the light creates a sensuous effect, as if it is physically touching the woman’s face.

I also looked at Wazari Wazir’s images of his children’s faces, lit by the artificial light of a lantern (is candle light artificial light?) against a naturally lit background. I found these images very beautiful. The children held the lanterns close to their faces, highlighting them as the subject of the image and creating a soft warm feel that links their childhood with the neighbourhood as a happy place. Please see the link below.


Taken from films, as referenced below.


Michaela (2007) Psycho trailer. At: 9 February 2017).

MicrosoftPrivacy (2017) In the mood for love (unofficial trailer) – Bing video. Available at: Accessed: 9.2.17

Noisey (2013) Opale – ‘ sparkles and wine’ (official video). At: 9 February 2017).

Wazir, W. (2016) Wazari Wazir photographer Blog, Malaysian photographer. At: (Accessed: 9 February 2017).



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