The “Kicker”

I couldn’t think of a good title for this post (“Cement and Metal”???) until I circled back to the one detail that had caught my eye in the first place and made this a photo worth snapping.

Because I’m teaching the Film Studies course this quarter, all of the cinema-related vocabulary I know is near the surface of my brain right now. A “kicker” is a light placed behind the subject to add definition, often in the form of “edge” or “rim” lighting.

Below is an example of rim lighting from my fave campy film-noir movie, Sunset Boulevard. What do you think? Was “The ‘Kicker'”a good title? 🙂


About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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4 Responses to The “Kicker”

  1. That cloud above the light is interesting as well!! I do love the Sunset Boulevard “kicker”!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sally Cissna says:

    I’m interested in how this got to be called the kicker. A kicker of course can be a person (“He is the Packer’s kicker” positive) or an animal (“That pony is a known kicker” negative). A kicker can also be a unexpected or surprise ending (“The kicker to that story was that he was dead all the while”). In journalism the word “Kicker” is the small headline above the main headline that is used to, hopefully, promote interest in the story. In poker, the kicker is a side card that isn’t part of the win, but can be used to break a tie if there is one (two pair with an Ace beats two pair with a 5). And as you said in photography or film a kicker is a glancing light from behind or side that creates a highlight (as in your shot) or a gradient to define some aspect of the shot (as in the Sunset Boulevard shot). So what do all these have in common? A short (or small) burst of energy that helps to define or clarify the situation. Do you agree?

    Liked by 1 person

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