Guide To Professional Studio Lighting: Essentials And Techniques

in Photography + Gear


Capturing moments with wedding photography, creating portraits and fashion images can be a endless source of fulfillment and interest. By this time, you have learned how to use your digital SLR and its functions to produce thousands of your stunning images. But you wanted to give your images more punch with the use of creative studio lighting. Adjusting light to capture your vision can be intimidating to someone who is just getting started. If you haven’t tried studio lighting, getting into the world of tungsten hot lights, softboxes, umbrellas or seamless background can be very daunting. However, being in studio set up, you can control the light while experimenting with lighting, posing, and composition.

Introduction to Studio Lighting

Let’s watch B&H maven Joey Quintero‘s 2-hour video as he shared and explained about studio lighting photography tips and techniques using continuous 1 light set up with reflector, continuous 2 light set up and the rim light, using a flash / ambient meter, studio flash with umbrella set up, studio flash with softbox set up, studio flash with beauty dish set up and more about light modifiers with studio lighting.

Philosophy of Studio Space

Zack Arias personal philosophy on having a photography studio space as well as points to consider for getting a studio space of your own or converting a space you already have into a photography studio. On this workshop, he also discussed the basics of exposure when working with flash inside the studio, placing multiple lights along with various lighting ratios with the use of light meter.

Guide to Choosing Lights

Get your studio lighting pack in a system that is expandable for future upgrades. You may begin with a small power pack and head system, therefore be sure that the heads will function along with a bigger power pack in the long run and never have to trade in almost all of your current lighting equipment. Once you’ve discovered a lighting system that matches your needs, stay with that system for “horizontal” purchases. On this video, EOS goes into detail about all the different lighting types and which lighting type is right for you.


Posing Techniques for Portraits

Posing is crucial to creating portraits that your clients will love to own. Choosing the proper outfit and setting goes together with posing. The portrait reaches a sense of style only when the ideal pose is mixed with the right clothing, in the suitable setting, and using the best expression. Here’s a video guide to posing techniques for portrait photography from EOS.

Studio Lighting Placement

When you photograph head portraits, it is best to place a camera at the eye level. For upper body or torso portraits, position your camera at chin level. And when shooting full-length portraits, set the camera at waist level. Here’s a video on key concepts and techniques behind 3-point lighting in portrait photography with sample diagram.

Choosing A Studio Backdrop

Canvas backdrops are durable. Because of their heavy weight, it’s ideal for permanent locations. They can be pricey but the surface lets the artist create natural looking backdrops. Muslin backgrounds are much easier to travel and can be packed in a bag. One of the favorable aspects of muslin over canvas is that it provides good value for the cash conscious photographer. Here’s a video again from EOS about using muslin as a backdrop.


Studio Lighting And Equipment Safety

Studio safety can be improved by the careful positioning of cords, stands, lights and booms.

Three Light Portrait 6 Light Explosion

A simple 3 light portrait lesson that shows the basics of a 3 light set up to photograph a person. Part II shows the use of special effects and a couple of more lights to push the shot a little farther.




Light is the essence of great photography wherein portrait lighting mimics the natural light of the environment. The contour of the subject’s face confirms what basic lighting pattern should be applied to form shadows and highlights. With clever placement of the key light, it is possible to widen a narrow face and hide unflattering facial features. Let’s view a couple of studio shots below.

Studio Lighting Inspiration #01

01-23-studio-lighting-tutorialPhoto via Alxmls


Studio Lighting Inspiration #02

02-22-studio-lighting-techniquesPhoto via Lesstat


Studio Lighting Inspiration #03

03-12-photography-lighting-tipsPhoto via R.R.Photography


Studio Lighting Inspiration #04

04-11-studio-photographyPhoto via Just-a-human


Studio Lighting Inspiration #05

05-29-lighting-techniquesPhoto via Ryan Brann


Studio Lighting Inspiration #06

06-07-portrait-photographyPhoto via Phamster


Studio Lighting Inspiration #07

07-40-fashion-photography-lightingPhoto via Yuri Hahhalev


Studio Lighting Inspiration #08

08-26-studio-lighting-tipsPhoto via Kevingeary


Studio Lighting Inspiration #09

09-20-studio-lighting-techniquesPhoto via Vertex Photography


Studio Lighting Inspiration #10

10-19-photography-tipsPhoto via LIGHT HACKERS


Studio Lighting Inspiration #11

11-43-portrait-photography-tipsPhoto via Noor +


Studio Lighting Inspiration #12

12-49-on-location-studio-lightingPhoto via Buldrock


Studio Lighting Inspiration #13

13-50-outdoor-studio-lightingPhoto via Buldrock


Studio Lighting Inspiration #14

14-38-studio-lighting-essentialsPhoto via Julia Ivanova / Studioxil


Studio Lighting Inspiration #15

15-44-introduction-studio-lightingPhoto via Noor +


Studio Lighting Inspiration #16

16-41-studio-lighting-basicPhoto via Yuri Hahhalev


Studio Lighting Inspiration #17

17-47-studio-lighting-primerPhoto via Photodrug


Studio Lighting Inspiration #18

18-48-studio-lighting-tipsPhoto via Buldrock


Studio Lighting Inspiration #19

19-27-portrait-photography-tutorialPhoto via Blake Herman


Studio Lighting Inspiration #20

20-42-dramatic-lighting-techniquesPhoto via Tiltti

The basic skills necessary to grow into a professional photographer takes time and determination. Photography skills need to be applied and practiced regularly in order that they turn out to be.

Further Readings on Photography Tips

1. Top 10: Photography Light Modifiers For Creative Portraits
2. Portrait Photography Techniques Using Dramatic High Contrast Lighting
3. Photography Techniques: 40 Baby Portrait Design Using Props
4. Faces Of Power: 50 Portraits That Influence The World By Platon
5. Lead image via Art&men