Learn How to Light Like Wes Anderson's Go-To DP, Robert Yeoman

Cinematographer Robert Yeoman has created some of the most beautiful and unique lighting in recent memory. What are his tips?

The award-winning DP knows how to create that buttery light that works perfectly for films like The Squid and the Whale, or the soft, colorful scenes straight out of Wes Anderson's imagination, or the bright comedic lighting needed for Paul Feig's Bridesmaids. He's quite prolific and we should all want to be as accomplished.

CookeOpticsTV has put together some amazing tidbits from a recent interview with Yeoman. Watch it below, then get into the biggest takeaways!

He utilizes new tech

Yeoman isn't above apps and phones. In fact, he uses an app on his phone called Sun Seeker that helps him track the biggest natural light source of all. On a set, he can tell how long sunlight will be available or when it might intrude on certain angles.

He says one of the first things a director always asks is, "Where's the sun gonna be?" So, why not have an exact answer?

Starting with this knowledge can help you appear more aware and also help with your planning. Does the director insist on shooting from an angle that will be front-lit for hours? Will you need silks or flags to block that light? How much additional time will that take? Can you get the director to shift the shot just a little?

Being prepared can save a production hours of work.

He wants it to seem like he didn't try

If you look at Yeoman's work, especially in Anderson's films (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Life Aquatic), the lighting is so soft and so diffused that it almost looks effortless, as if the DP didn't have to do anything.

He says he takes that as a compliment!

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
"My daughter's a photographer," he says. "And the first thing I said is, 'Just go stand your subject next to a window, and put the window right here, and just the soft light from the side. Let it fall off.' It's beautiful light."

He says one of the first things he usually does in a location is turn off all the light sources to see what natural light he's working with.

If he has to use big lights for certain scenes, he says he usually opts for the ARRI SkyPanel with diffusion. He also likes that he can control the warmth of the color from an iPad for day/night lighting.

Although he loves the ease of LEDs, he says he'll still go for tungsten, too.

What's next? Learn more from Yeoman!

Here are some more unique tips from Robert Yeoman. Explore the cinematographer's work with Wes Anderson, including five of their most iconic shots. Finally, get inspired by beautiful cinematography    

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