What Does a Lighting Designer Do?

Vancouver Lighting Design

Invariably, it has caught your attention at least once or twice in the recent past. An elaborate lighting display at a stage show or concert, or maybe you walked into the foyer of an art museum and were struck by the astonishing use of light to create mood and ambience. 

If you’re like a lot of people, despite your amazement, you probably didn’t give it much thought beyond that moment. If you had wondered who was behind the impressive use of light, you would discover that what you saw was the product of the talent and craftsmanship of a lighting designer.

Put simply, a lighting designer is a technical professional who plans lighting strategies to maximize both practical and artistic effects. There are two branches that lighting designers fall under – stage and production lighting designers, and architectural lighting designers. Both use the same basic approach but each has a different endgame in mind. One is more concerned with the artistic merit and properties of the lighting design, while the other is more focussed on the practical effective use of light.

Stage and Production Lighting

A lighting designer in this field would be most commonly found in a theatre production, concert hall, or corporate event. The lighting designer is responsible for determining how to set up and execute the stage lighting so the emotion of the moment is enhanced by the lighting. This means working closely with the director and stage manager to come up with the specific execution of the plan.

Lighting design is both an individual skill as well as a collaborative art form, thus requiring a fine balancing act to do the job properly. The lighting designer works with the lighting programmer, and other lighting techs who set up and adjust the lights under his or her direction. The entire operation is managed to a lighting console at back of the room.

Architectural Lighting

Just as in the field of stage of production, the architectural lighting designer is responsible for coming up with a lighting strategy for a specific space. The difference here is that it is often a more functional living or working space. When an architect is either building or renovating an office space, for example, he or she will often employ the expertise of a lighting designer to come up with the best ways to light the area.  Amongst the different aspects of the leading designer must factor in are:

  • The general purpose for which the space will be used.
  • The amount of light required for the intended use of the space.
  • Is there any coloured light required given the specific parameters of the space?
  • The distribution of light within the space.
  • The intended effect the light should have on the user

No matter what specific field in which they operate, the ultimate benchmark of success for a lighting designer lies in the human response.  That is to say, whether the people and objects lit were seen clearly, easily and without discomfort. And whether or not the intended emotional response was achieved.

If you’re looking for a beginners guide to programming dmx lights, check out our video on how to program dmx lights.

If you’re looking for a lighting designer for your next event, Kettner Creative would love the opportunity to help bring your event to life. Please contact us for more information!