Keep scrolling to see the gear and settings used for this shot.

My starter kit for studio lighting

I think its safe to say that most of us photographers start out with just a camera and natural light. I absolutely love natural light photography and my partner, Kim, shoots this style very well. However, I feel like the sooner you dive into studio flash photography the sooner you can deepen your understanding of light and learn to use light properly in studio and in natural settings. This reigned true for me at least.. I would spend my free time watching youtube videos of professional photoshoots then immediately wanted to go all in and purchase as many strobes as I could get and all of the light modifiers you could ever dream of. Unfortunately for me, I'm not made of money and studio equipment can cost BIG so that idea immediately went out the window. Instead, I opted for one single speedlight and the cheapest light modifier I found. I wasn't expecting much but let me tell you; if you know what you're doing one light is all you need. I love the dramatic style of portraiture you can get from one single light source.



I suggest you aim for Rembrandt style lighting and place the speedlight 45 degrees from either side of the model, then hold the light high and aim it down at 45 degrees toward the model's face. This is a wonderful way to get started and you get very pleasing images from it. You can also play around with the position of your model or the way the model is facing as I did in a few of the photographs below. If you've been wanting to get into studio work I highly recommend Godox lighting. Godox is very affordable and provides awesome quality, I can honestly see myself sticking with Godox throughout my photography career. This budget speedlight only cost $40 and I liked it so much that I purchased a second one. The best part of opting for a speedlight instead of a strobe is that we were able to take these speedlights to events and put them to use there as our on-camera flash. I was able to get creative in studio and practical on location. I would say that $40 is a steal for what we've done with these bad boys. Of course, they do have their downsides. The recycle time on them is painfully slow and the fact that they run on 4 AA batteries will quickly get annoying. If you have the capital to invest in a Lithium Ion powered speedlight I suggest going with a more expensive model. That's not to count this speedlight out, though. If you don't want to break the bank this one here is the way to go. All in, I spent about $100 between the light, the softbox with grid, the bracket and the cloth backdrop. I am including a lightstand in these links as I feel like that would be essential. Unfortunately for us I didn't have a stand at the time and I asked my partner Kim to hold the light on the model for me. It got the job done but a simple light stand could have saved us the trouble from going through that. If you're not looking to spend more than $100 I suppose you could get the stand instead of getting the backdrop. If you place your model far enough from any backdrop and use a grid, it's easy to black out the background in the image. All in all studio portraiture is a ton of fun and playing around with lighting is a great way to express yourself and learn a lot of the fundamentals of photography.

What you'll need:


How to use it:

Once you have your lights set up the way I explain in the diagram above, your first step is to pose your model. You are limited with tight shots using this set up, but the results are beautiful none-the-less.

After you're satisfied with the pose, your second step is to set your exposure so that your sensor doesn't pick up ANY ambient light. I typically achieve this with an aperture at around f/8-11 and a SS of 1/200-1/300. Of course, that isn't always true, though.

Your third step is to set the power of your strobe or speedlight to achieve the exposure that you want. This may take a couple of test fires to figure out, but worth your time.


Camera Settings:

Camera: Canon EOS M50

SS: 1/200

Aperture: f/8

ISO: 100

Strobe: Godox tt520ii

@ 1/4 power

More Examples

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