Shoot stunning studio portraits

home studio

Want to shoot professional-looking portraits? Ben Brain shows you how to get to grips with a basic home studio kit

Studio lighting can seem daunting if younever tried it before.

However, itnot nearly as scary as most people think. By using a simple home 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 a Nikon Speedlight.

Weusing 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 lighting setups for shooting studio portraits, with the help of our beautiful model, Jade. While these are a great starting point, itbest to experiment, so if youworking in you re own home studio don t be afraid to tweak these setups. Now letget started and see how it s done!

STUDIO SETUP Creating the perfect portrait studio

This basic home studio kit includes everything you need to get started. Here are some of the key tools yoube using...

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, therea modelling light. Most have a switchable ’, enabling one flash to be triggered by another, so you only need to have your camera connected to one of the heads.

? 03 Umbrella

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.

04 Softbox

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.

05 Snoot/ honeycomb

Both of these tools help to concentrate or focus’the light. Theyideally suited for use as backlights or for isolating a particular part of an image.

06 Reflector

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.

home studio

SETUP 1 Rembrandt

Ideal for artistic shots with depth

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. There should be a small triangle of light on the subject s face-this is referred to as Rembrandt lighting.

SETUP 2 Clamshell

Capture every detail with even light

This setup is great for beauty images as

the lighting is flat and even. It s pretty easy to achieve this effect too-all you need to do is place two softboxes on either side of your subject at the same angle and at an equal distance. Set the power so itthe same from each light. Try using a reflector under the face-your model should easily be able to hold this. This will bounce light up and onto the face.


A sync cable or a wireless trigger is needed to connect your camera with the lights so that when you press the shutter, the lights fire at the same time. Some wireless triggers (such as the pair above bought on eBay for ?15, $25) are so cheap now that theythe best option, especially as many popular Nikon D-SLRs donhave the PC socket you need in order to use a more traditional sync cable.

SETUP 3 Backlight

Add depth and drama with rear lights

To add drama, use a honeycomb or snoot accessory on one of the lights. This will narrow the beam of light. We re going to position this behind the model, pointing back towards the camera so that it lights the back of her head.

This is a great way to add drama and depth to a photo, and it also creates a sense of separation from the background. Of course, you need to make sure the backlight isnvisible in the shot.

SETUP 4 Rim lighting

An exciting style with good definition

Place both lights slightly behind the

subject, pointing back towards the camera. This setup requires some tweaking and can work really well with nudes as it helps define body shape. You ll need to watch out for lens flare, though, as the lights are pointing back towards the camera. A set of doors , a lens hood or a shield can help prevent this. An assistant who can hold a carefully positioned reflector is useful-this will help fill in those areas of deep shadow.


The shutter speed you choose is less significant in a studio setup but obviously needs to be fast enough to avoid any camera shake. However, you also need to be careful not to set a shutter speed faster than the cameraspecified sync speed-on most Nikons, this is usually either 1/200 sec or 1/250 sec. Go any faster and youhave horrible black stripes across your images.

Comments are closed.