Studio lighting made easy: here's a simple setup for portraiture

Phil Barker shows how to create a simple and straightforward studio lighting setup for portraiture
(Image credit: Future)

Shooting a wide range of subjects for both editorial and advertising purposes, I have worked in photography studios for the last five years. I cover a variety of subject matters from musicians and actors to automobiles and trainers. Each client I work with requires adjusting my style of photography, adapting my lighting, and altering my editing process to fit their brief. 

• Read more: 5 studio portrait tips (opens in new tab) 

Although having the best camera for portraits (opens in new tab) and the best lens for portraits (opens in new tab) can help you to capture stunning results, often it's the simple setups that are most effective when you’re working in a variety of locations and under time pressures.

They are a great starting point to build on, to create more elaborate lighting arrangements to fit your brief. For this portrait of model Meghan, I went back to basics using just one flash (a Profoto B2 and D4 power pack) and a plain backdrop.

Getting setup in the studio

(Image credit: Future)

Lighting setup

I used a 130cm parabolic umbrella, with the diffuser at a 45-degree angle about 1.5 meters away from the model. This meant the light source was soft and even. A white card bounced light in to maintain detail in the shadows.

(Image credit: Future)
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Camera settings

I shoot my editorial work on a Nikon D850 (opens in new tab); in the studio, I photograph tethered to Capture One software. I wanted the focus to be on Megan’s face rather than on her outfit, so I photographed her at 85mm and selected a wide aperture of f/2.8.

Phil Barker shows how to create a simple and straightforward studio lighting setup for portraiture

(Image credit: Future)

Read more:

Photography tips and techniques
(opens in new tab)Best cameras for portraits
(opens in new tab)Best lenses for portraits (opens in new tab)

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