How to Use a Gobo for Photography

How to Use a Gobo for Photography

One of the, if not the, most important elements of photography is lighting. The right lighting can transform an image, as can the wrong lighting. Gobo lights have seen a surge in popularity for weddings and events, and are currently making an impact in the photography world. Creating the illusion of space and shapes, gobos are fast becoming creative lighting photography techniques - adding dimensions to your images. 

What is a Gobo?

For those that are not aware of gobo lighting and the beautiful effects created from using them, gobo stands for ‘go before optics’. A gobo light is best compared to a stencil or, in this case, a photographic slide. Used in a variety of stage lights, automatic lights and projectors, gobos are used to project images, patterns or photographic images. This can be done on the side of buildings, ceilings, walls, dance floors and, of course, studios. 

Gobo light designs can be made in metal, black and white glass or coloured glass, ranging in size from depending on the gobo projector you are using. 

Choose the Perfect Gobo

Many first-time photographers struggle with lighting methods and techniques, so you can start at the basics when choosing a particular gobo. Simple geometric shape gobo templates block direct light from hitting the subject of your images, producing creative effects for your images. The geometric gobo templates provide a modern and artistic backdrop to the images and are available in a range of shapes. 

Alternatively, you can view our gobo catalogue and opt for another template. Landscape and architectural gobos create romantic effects, specifically the Eiffel Tower gobo. Likewise, you could create an outdoor feel with a nature-inspired shoot, featuring falling leaves, large trees and even a starry sky. 


When using gobos for photography, it’s important to control your shadows. Take into account the distance between your light source and the subject and, of course, your gobo for the photoshoot. 

If you are looking for a harsher image, increase your distance between the gobo and light source. The patterns of the gobo will be at their most effective if further away, and you’ll be able to see more of the desired projected image. 

You also have to consider your subject and light source. If you are using a model and are using the gobo to cast shapes on the model’s profile, shadows will get harsher on your image if you close the distance between your gobo and subject. For maximum effect from your gobo, should you choose a particular pattern or projected image - landscape and architectural gobos, for example - rather than a shape, place your gobo as far away as possible from the light source, but slightly closer to the model. 

Gobo Projectors

If you are planning on using a gobo light for your photography, you’ll need a gobo projector. Depending on the venue you are using for your shoot, they may already have a projector to hire. However, we offer a range of gobo projectors to buy, both for indoor and outdoor use, as well as smaller models ideal for a photoshoot. 

Get in touch with one of our team to discuss using a gobo for photography.