This traditional method uses three lights on a subject:
- Key Light: the main source of light, usually the brightest.
- Fill Light: a dimmer (less intense) light used to “fill” in shadows caused by the key light, and prevent the shadow side of the subject from going completely dark.
- Back (or Top) Light: placed behind and slightly above the subject, this light creates a highlight on the subject’s hair and clothing to create separation from the background.
Most professional television interviews use this style of lighting, and it can look really polished if done correctly. This method has a couple of downsides, though. One is that it looks lit–artificially created and subjective. The other is that it only works in a studio if you have a lot of time, lighting equipment, crew and enough electrical outlets. That’s why you only see it used in magazine shows.
Here’s a nice tutorial on three point lighting from Lowell Lighting.