When we walk into a room, we think we see the incredible flowers, beautiful linens or the amazing scenery. The guests usually don’t know the truth-that they are only seeing those things the way the lighting designer intended. The way we light a room or a specific element completely changes the way it looks and feels. This is because of the colors we choose, the textures we add, or the places we set the lights. A good lighting designer is like a great graphic designer for real life. When you walk into the room and notice how it feels, that is the work of the LD. When your eyes are glued to the stage, it is because the lighting designer wanted them to be. When you’re dancing like crazy, the LD knew you would be! The first step in incredible lighting: do it on purpose. Know what it should look and feel like before you start to design. Know what it feels like to stand in the room and what you’ll see as you look around. Understand what you are lighting and what you want it to look like. Then work backwards. Think three-dimensionally. Be a sculptor, not a painter. A sculptor has to imagine their art from all angles. They know where their viewer is standing and creates an experience based on the vantage point. Start as an artist, but always finish as a technician. Never let science inhibit your creativity but always remember your technical, financial and logistical limitations. When you have perfected your formula for amazing lighting-abandon it and start over. It just got boring. Always put function before form. No one cares how beautiful it is if they cannot see their food, or if their food is not the right color. You cannot appreciate the color when the light is in your eyes. Create the event you want to attend, not the one you want to photograph. The kind of light you use matters much less then what you do with it. Use the resources you have -it will be fantastic. The best lighting I have ever seen was twenty years ago: no moving lights, no LED, just talent. Make a clear decision if the equipment is part of the look, or only the way to achieve your look. If the answer is the latter, then hide your gear. Remember that when you project a light somewhere, it lands somewhere else. Light with purpose. When you up light something, know what’s above it that catches the light. Don’t light chair rails or fire extinguishers. Be creative and brilliant. Dare to fail.