Home photo studios: how to shoot pro-quality portraits with a basic studio kit

How to set up your home photo studio

How to set up your home photo studio: step 1

Set up your lights
Position the main light, with a softbox attached, at 45° to the subject and above their head. Try and create a small triangle of light on the side of the face that's further from the light, with the shadow of the nose pointing towards the corner of the lip.

How to set up your home photo studio: step 2

Light up the hair
Use the second light, with a snoot attached, positioned behind the subject on the opposite side to the main light: this'll shine a hard, direct light on the hair. Finally, use a white reflector to fill in the side of the model's face in shadow.

How to set up your home photo studio: step 3

Relax into the shoot
Switch to manual mode and use your camera's LCD display and histogram to establish a good exposure, ensuring you keep your shutter speed in sync, which is usually 1/250 sec or slower. Now you're ready to start shooting. Try and keep the model relaxed, even if you're a little nervous yourself.

Ben Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK-based photographer, award-winning journalist and author. He balances his personal practice with writing about photography and running photography workshops and enrichment programmes. He writes a monthly column called The Art of Seeing, and his first book, You Will Be Able To Take Great Photos By The End of This Book, was published in 2023 by Ilex Press in the UK and by Prestel in the USA with translations in Spanish, Bulgarian and German; his second book, A Camera Bag Companion, was published in March 2024. Benedict is often seen on the panels of prestigious photo competitions, and in 2020, he founded Potato Photographer of the Year. Benedict exhibits his work internationally, and travels the world as a public speaker, talking about the art and craft of photography.