Home photo studios: how to shoot pro-quality portraits with a basic studio kit

Home photo studios: how to shoot creative portrait photography at a fraction of the cost

How to set up your home photo studio

How to set up your home photo studio: step 1

Set up your lights
Position the main light, with a softbox attached, at 45° to the subject and above their head. 
Try and create a small triangle of light on the side of the face that’s further from the light, with the shadow of the nose pointing towards the corner of the lip.

SEE MORE: Best camera flash for portrait photography – 6 models tested and rated

How to set up your home photo studio: step 2

Light up the hair
Use the second light, with a snoot attached, positioned behind the subject on the opposite side to the main light: this’ll shine a hard, direct light on the hair. Finally, use a white reflector to fill in the side of the model’s face in shadow.

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

How to set up your home photo studio: step 3

Relax into the shoot
Switch to manual mode and use your camera’s LCD display and histogram to establish a good exposure, ensuring you keep your shutter speed in sync, which is usually 1/250 sec or slower. Now you’re ready to start shooting. Try and keep the model relaxed, even if you’re a little nervous yourself.

PAGE 1: What you need in your home photo studio
PAGE 2: How to set up your home photo studio
PAGE 3: How to create a catchlight in your subject’s eyes
PAGE 4: Final tips for creative portrait photography


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  • Sirs, I quote “Move a light further away from your subject, and it will become more
    diffused and softer; move it closer and it’ll become harder with
    stronger shadows.”. I believe that you have this backwards.

  • Valeri Tian

    Actually, the author is correct. The softness depends on light source size and not on a distance. The closer you come to the subject, the softer is the light. The light softness is different from light power