Studio lighting can seem daunting if you've never tried it before. However, most portrait photography lighting techniques are not nearly as scary as most people think. By using a simple home photo studio kit with just a couple of flash heads and a few basic accessories, you can get great results in no time at all. In fact, it's arguably easier to use a studio lighting setup than off-camera flash.
For this studio lighting tutorial we're using a two-head Elinchrom D-Lite it 2 Studio 2 Go kit, which costs about £500 ($630), but there are plenty of other options to choose from that will suit any budget.
We'll take you through some of the standard kit you need, and show you four great studio lighting techniques for shooting professional-looking portraits in your home photo studio, with the help of our beautiful model, Jade.
While these classic lighting techniques are a great starting point, it's best to experiment, so if you're working in you're own home photo studio don't be afraid to tweak these studio lighting setups.
Each technique will take about 30 minutes to set up and shoot.
Now let's get started and see how it's done!
Creating the perfect home photo studio
This basic home photo studio kit includes everything you need to get started. Here are some of the key tools you'll be using to create the classic studio lighting techniques in this tutorial...
01 Light stands
Studio flash is all about positioning the light source away from the camera, so stands are crucial. They support the flash heads, which means they can be positioned at the right distance and angle to the subject.
02 Flash heads
Most kits have two flash heads. Along with a flash tube, there's a modelling light. Most have a switchable 'slave', enabling one flash to be triggered by another, so you only need to have your camera connected to one of the heads.
A brolly is the most standard form of lighting accessory. The flash is directed into the brolly so the light is reflected back onto the subject. They are available in different reflective surfaces - typically white, silver or gold.
Softboxes are slightly more sophisticated than brollies and once you've worked out how to assemble these tent-like devices, they create a softer and generally more flattering light, with a more even illumination.
Both of these tools help to concentrate or 'focus' the light. They're ideally suited for use as backlights or for isolating a particular part of an image.
A simple reflector can be really useful in a studio lighting setup, especially if you're only using one light. You use it the same way you would with natural light - to bounce light back onto your subject and fill in any hard shadow areas.
Studio Lighting Setup 1 | Rembrandt
This studio lighting technique is ideal for artistic shots with depth
A simple reflector can be really useful in a studio lighting setup, especially if you're only using one light.
You use it the same way you would with natural light - to bounce light back onto your subject and fill in any hard shadow areas.
Position one flash head with a silver brolly at a 45° angle to the model at about six feet high.
This creates a strong, hard, direct light from the side and above. This is called a key light.
To even the lighting, position a reflector on the other side of the model to bounce the light back into the shadow side.