How Can You Get Started with Stage Lighting From Nothing?

lighting basics Jan 03, 2023

If your new to stage lighting and not sure where to start, how do you get started from nothing? In this post, I am going to share my favorite tips on how to get started and get what you need from the very start.

If you’re here, you’ve probably watched a lot of videos, read some tutorials, and may even want to pull your hair out on where to even begin. Sometimes, information overload can make a project seem more than what it is. To help keep it simple, let’s walk through these steps first.

Goals for Lighting

The first step is very simple but also very effective. While there is nothing wrong with going out and purchasing what you need, you do want to clearly define your intentions of what you want to accomplish with your lighting.

Consider these questions, what do you want your lights to do? What are your goals? What are you hoping to accomplish? While this seems very simple, it’s easily overlooked.

There are no wrong answers here, but you might come up with something like "we want to be seen" (at the base level), or "we want an epic, synced to music lightshow".

Many will go out and buy lights and a console, go through the entire setup, just realize that the lights aren’t doing what they originally hoped they would. I don’t want that for you.

Front Lights and Positions

Once you’ve established your goals for lighting, it’s time to purchase some lights. If you are lighting a stage of any kind, it’s very important to know the importance of creating an even wash on your stage.

I dive deeper into how to do this here: How to Create an Even Wash of Stage Light.

This is very important for lighting, camera work, and overall making the stage very appealing to an audience. Once you have your front stage lighting coordinated then you can focus on other sections such as the back lighting and side lights if needed.

Controlling Your Lights

Now this is a big one because there are so many options! If you’re working with just a few lights you might be able to get away with not having a controller and being able to set a scene on your lights directly.

One of the great lights for this is shown above, the GAMMA Starburst Par.

In most cases, some have more than just a few lights and would like to have control over those lights. There are a lot of lighting consoles out there and if you’re getting started it’s important to choose one that will do what you are hoping it will.

Related: How to Choose Your First Lighting Console

Remember it’s not more lights that will make your show amazing, it’s what you are able to create and do with your lighting that makes a huge difference.

The Basic Necessities

Once you decide what type of console you want to begin with, you’ll then need DMX cables. I go more into how to work with DMX in these additional articles.

How Do I Wire DMX? – Wiring DMX 101!

Video: What DMX Mode Should I Put My Lights In?

Lastly, your going to need either a lighting stand or a truss to setup your lights on. Then you’re off to the races and ready to light!


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