Role of A Lighting Director: Many Roles, Hats to Wear

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Role of A Lighting Director: Many Roles, Hats to Wear
As a Designer, when I’m working on a new project, I really like to define myself as “designer” and not get trapped in a definition of “creative” personally. I have just seen so many people get wrapped up in a mindset that creative equals art, and it has always been a staple of mine that design is greater than art for lighting.
Role of A Lighting Director: Many Roles, Hats to Wear
As a Designer, when I’m working on a new project, I really like to define myself as “designer” and not get trapped in a definition of “creative” personally. I have just seen so many people get wrapped up in a mindset that creative equals art, and it has always been a staple of mine that design is greater than art for lighting.

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Penrod WFX 2017

If you like what Kevin has to say with regard to this topic, he will also be a speaker at WFX in October, discussing lighting. Click here for more info.

As a Church Lighting Director (or Designer), you might as well carry the title of professional juggler.

I might be biased, but there aren’t many roles in the world that I have heard that switch projects and responsibilities as often as a church lighting director. There’s this strange stigma attached to the job that is rare to find in many people; you’re seen as highly creative, but also highly technical. You are expected to design insane things on the spot, but then are simultaneously asked by the next person how to pull off this other crazy idea. It sounds frustrating to no end, but I love it.

In the secular world, you typically have two people playing these roles of Lighting Designer and Lighting Director, with the designer wearing the hat of creative and the director taking care of the technical side of things.

You should be coming into the church with questions and having them answered within the walls of the church…

So what does it look like to switch between the hats?

As a Designer, when I’m working on a new project, I really like to define myself as “designer” and not get trapped in a definition of “creative” personally. I have just seen so many people get wrapped up in a mindset that creative equals art, and it has always been a staple of mine that design is greater than art for lighting.

Designing has a purpose; it’s there to enhance and elevate something that was already there and fulfill a need that was lacking before. Art by definition is meant to make us ask questions and ponder what’s going on, but you should be coming into the church with questions and having them answered within the walls of the church, not coming in and spending the service distracted by lighting and sets that are “artistic” and leaving you with more questions than you came in with.

When it’s time to come up with a new design, there are few goals you should be trying to achieve within that process:

-Be purposeful. I feel like more and more often I am seeing people do things in services just because you can, and not because you should. Or you saw this other church do it, and it worked great there, so you want to try it too. There are reasons it worked there, and there are reasons it may or may not work at your church.


More About Kevin Penrod
Kevin Penrod has been studying lighting design for 11 years. He attended college at West Texas A&M, where he studied Theatre Arts with concentrations in Lighting Design and Business Management. He is currently the Lighting Designer at Trinity Fellowship Church in Amarillo, Texas, where he manages the creative lighting design, scenic elements, and their implementation. In his free time, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife and newborn son and remodeling his home.
Get in Touch: [email protected]    More by Kevin Penrod

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Lighting Consoles Guide: Shedding Light On Choices
Learn about a half-dozen options that are particularly scalable, beginning with personal computer operability, all the way up to multiuniverse, full-size lighting consoles.


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