Using modeling lamps to capture dreamy studio portraits


posted Friday, November 13, 2015 at 5:26 PM EDT


Portrait photographers know how difficult it can be to work with strobes in the studio and shoot at wide apertures. Patrick Hall has written an article and recorded a video that discusses some techniques for capturing portraits with a shallow depth of field inside of a studio environment. Hall is a South Carolina-based wedding photographer and the co-founder of

The power of studio flash heads can be great, but it also forces you to shoot at smaller apertures such as f/8 and smaller. So what do you do when you want to capture portraits with a shallow depth of field? Hall says to shoot with modeling lamps rather than with studio strobes.

Modeling lamps are typically included in studio flash heads and used for setting up a shot before using your strobes for the actual image capture, but they can be much more useful than that. Modeling lamps pack a much smaller punch than studio flash heads, and this can be a good thing for certain situations.

Check out the video below to see how Hall uses modeling lamps in the studio and what some of the differences are between strobes and modelling lamps.


Hall discusses some alternatives to using modeling lamps as well. You can use neutral density filters on either your lens or on your strobes themselves. However, using them on your lens can make it difficult to focus and attaching them to strobes is not always a simple task. For additional alternatives to modeling lamps, check out Hall's article

Ultimately, there is more than one way to get studio portraits with a shallow depth of field. Whichever method allows you to capture the portraits that you desire is the 'right' way. With that said, Hall makes a strong case for utilizing the modeling lamps that come with studio strobes.

(Seen via Fstoppers)