Master your Craft: Studio lighting fundamentals


posted Friday, July 1, 2022 at 2:00 PM EDT


Studio lighting is a big topic, but it doesn't need to feel overwhelming. Understanding basic lighting and posing can dramatically improve your studio portraits. Better yet, some of the lessons will translate to other portrait photography situations. A new video by Pye Jirsa of SLR Lounge delivers an overview of studio lighting fundamentals, including lighting setup, directionality, negative fill, posing and camera angle.

For beginners, it's common to set up your light and start shooting. However, even subtle refinements can produce dramatic improvements. Jirsa shoots with just a single off-camera strobe and an octabox (softbox) modifier. You can follow along with nearly any off-camera light source and a simple modifier.

A simple lighting setup, such as side lighting, isn't bad. However, once you start setting up your lights more intentionally, there's so much space for creativity. Jirsa used a "paramount" lighting position, which is top-down lighting from the middle. Be sure to angle the light to even the light out. Otherwise, you'll end up with really strong shadows on your subject's face.

You can also incorporate other modifying tools to continue to augment your single light, including V-flats, like Jirsa did, or even different reflectors or other tools to bounce light. You may want to check out this in-depth lighting study video from Jirsa. In that video, he shows how you can control a single light source to change the look and feel of a portrait.

For a written guide and to see more sample images, visit SLR Lounge. For more great content, head to the Adorama YouTube channel.

(Via Adorama and SLR Lounge