Lighting Prompts for Midjourney

January 14, 2024

Tory Barber

Photo of a woman wearing a headscarf and a shadowed face. generated in Midjourney

Why do Lighting Keywords Work in Midjourney?

Lighting keywords are great for generating photography images in Midjourney! They give the AI information on the mood you are looking for, they affect the color of the image, and tell the AI that the photo should look professional.

Some of these Lighting keywords can work for illustrations as well, but they were particularly selected to help you generate better photorealistic images.

Quick Links

Use the buttons below to quickly jump through the prompt examples.

Soft Lighting

Backlighting

Natural Lighting

Golden Hour

Sunset

Shadowed

Sun Flare

Studio Lighting

Soft Lighting

Soft lighting is used to create photos with even, diffused light.

Similar to natural lighting, Midjourney tends to use organic and earthy colors in these photos to subtly reinforce the softness of the photo.

portrait of  a woman with soft lighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a beautiful and diverse woman with soft lighting

portrait of a man with soft lighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a handsome and diverse man with soft lighting

Backlighting

As the name suggests, this keyword places the light source behind the subject. It creates dark, moody images with harsh shadow lines.

Images that use the backlighting keyword tend to have a dark background, and the subject is often blended into the background.

If you are lucky, you can generate an image with a rim lighting halo that outlines your subject (like is seen in the woman’s portrait). I took a while to get this, and you may require a more specific prompt to generate images like these more often.

portrait of a woman with backlighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a beautiful and diverse woman with backlighting

portrait of a man with backlighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a handsome and diverse man with backlighting

Natural Lighting

Naturally lit photos have warm and even lighting across the image as if the image was taken outside in the sun.

This lighting makes the photos appear inviting and organic. Even the color palettes tend to look similar to those you can find in nature.

portrait of a woman with natural lighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a beautiful and diverse woman with natural lighting

portrait of a man with natural lighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a handsome and diverse man with natural lighting

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Golden Hour

The Golden Hour is a photography term used to describe a particular time in the day when the sun is setting, and the world is bathed in golden light.

You can capture some breathtaking images during this time!

Midjourney will almost always add a setting sun to your composition, and the gold wash will overwrite any other color prompt you add.

portrait of a woman taken at golden hour, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a beautiful and diverse woman taken at golden hour

portrait of a man taken at golden hour, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a handsome and diverse man taken at golden hour

Sunset

Your subjects are usually backlit by a beautiful and colorful sky when you use “sunset” in your prompt.

Unlike Golden Hour, Sunset is not locked down to one type of color palette. This is a great keyword if you’d like a sunset sky and sun flares in your image, but don’t want to be locked down by a golden composition.

portrait of a woman with sunset, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a beautiful and diverse woman taken at sunset

portrait of a man with sunset, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a handsome and diverse man taken at sunset

Shadowed

This keyword generates images with fascinating shadows and patterns on your subject’s face.

It’s a great prompt to use when you are looking to generate dramatic and artistic photos.

portrait of a woman with shadowed lighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a photo portrait of a beautiful and diverse woman shadowed

portrait of a man with shadowed lighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a photo portrait of a handsome and diverse man shadowed

Sunflare

This keyword is pretty self-explanatory: it adds sunflares to images!

It often has a similar golden glow to the Golden Hour prompt, but this is more easily overwritten.

portrait of a woman with sun flare, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a beautiful and diverse woman, Sunflare

portrait of a man with sun flare, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a portrait of a handsome and diverse man, Sunflare

Studio Lighting

If you’re ever struggling to make an image look like it was taken by a professional photographer, add “studio lighting” to the end of your prompt. It almost always fixes the problem.

You don’t often hear about a photo with studio lighting being taken by an armature. Only a professional photographer would have access to such lighting equipment.

Outside of professionalism, studio lighting photos also tend to be taken on a dark background and use shadows more dramatically. Kind of a more dramatic school photo!

portrait of a woman with studio lighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a photo portrait of a beautiful and diverse woman shadowed

portrait of a man with studio lighting, generated in midjourney

Prompt: a photo portrait of a handsome and diverse man shadowed

Want More Photography Prompt Inspiration for Midjourney?

Check out some of my other keyword inspiration lists. All prompts are tried and tested in Midjourney.

Man Drinking Coffee, generated in Midjourney

103 Candid Photography Prompts

Image of a woman holding a camera in front of her face in a city ally generated in Midjourney

Expert Guide to Generating Photography in Midjourney

Midjourney & Firefly Tested Keywords

Monthly Inspo Right in Your Inbox

Sign-up and get style-specific keywords directly to your inbox every month.

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About Me

Hi I’m Tory!I’m a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and AI OBSESSED artist from good ol’ Canada, eh!I record all the things I learn as I dive deeper into the Generative AI rabbit hole so I can teach people like you!

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