“I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won’t contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That’s what gives meaning: when it becomes a social act.”
— Orson Welles

Lighting is not just important from a technical point of view when it comes to photographing a scene.

Yes, the subject needs to be sufficiently lit to be visible, and ideally brighter than the background, since the eye is always drawn to the brightest part of an image.

But what makes an image cinematic and emotionally engaging is the creation of a mood.

One of the problems with traditional porn, and even modern “glamcore” porn, is the failure to use lighting in such a way. Capturing beautiful people fucking in bright daylight or in high-key fashion style lighting may look superficially attractive, and can indeed be arousing, but it engages and moves your audience on deeper levels about as much as an Ikea catalogue does.

Great cinematographers like Vittorio Storraro and Gordon Willis understand that the emotive power of light goes back to our primeval state.  So it makes sense we would instinctively respond more intensely to watching sex filmed at night, with pools of light and shadow, just as when we once only had fires in caves.

And the mystery created by not being able to see the whole scene all at once involves us more actively in what we’re watching.

Think about this before you flood the room with bright light for your vid. Experiment with the directionality of the light, lighting from the side and from different angles, paying attention to the way the shadows are cast – maybe moving in an out of them will add to the eroticism of your scene.