6 simple lighting setups for shooting portraits at home (plus free cheat sheet)

6 simple lighting setups for shooting portraits at home

If you’re looking to take your photography further you’ll probably want to learn how to use off-camera flash. In this tutorial we show you 6 simple studio light setups that will help you capture some of the classic portrait lighting effects.

What’s more, these lighting techniques will provide you with a solid foundation from which you can start experimenting to find your own style.

In our lighting setups cheat sheet below you’ll learn how to use high contrast light at a 90-degree angle; diffused light and a reflector; high contrast light at 45 degrees; high contrast light at 45 degrees with a reflector; low contrast light at 45 degrees with a reflector; and finally rim lighting from behind.

Lighting Setup 1: High contrast light at a 90-degree angle

Lighting Setup 1: High contrast light at a 90-degree angle

A striking result achieved with minimal kit. Using a single flash head at this angle can give an unflattering result, though.

The light will show up bumpy skin textures and create stark shadows and bright highlights.

Without a diffuser, the quality of light will be high contrast and if placed near the subject will create problems with fall-off where light is spread unevenly across the face.

By not using a reflector, shadows will be deep.

PAGE 1: Lighting Setup 1- High contrast light at a 90-degree angle
PAGE 2: Lighting Setup 2 – Diffused light and a reflector
PAGE 3: Lighting Setup 3 – High contrast light at 45 degree
PAGE 4: Lighting Setup 4 – High contrast light at 45 degrees with a reflector
PAGE 5: Lighting Setup 5 – Low contrast light at 45 degrees with a reflector
PAGE 6: Lighting Setup 6 – Rim lighting from behind
PAGE 7: Download all 6 lighting setups in our free cheat sheet

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  • Ksato Oroquietaph

    in the illustration about 45 degrees, where you placed the flashhead at the right bottom of the photo, while the shadow of the nose is seen it means the light is above the head. not the light at the bottom as illustrated in your photos. so question is this, where do you put the flash to the top left or bottom of the model?