How to Create Soft Portrait Lighting

Studio lighting isn’t as difficult as it may seem. In fact, with just two lights, you can create several different types of shots simply by repositioning them. Here’s how:

The first step, according to Scott Kelby, is to get a big, soft light. He’s exclusively using a dual Westcott package, which includes a large softbox and slender spiderlite.

If you set up just the softbox a few feet from your subject, it’ll create a nice, soft shadow:

soft box tutorial

If you want to fill in a few of those shadows (note underneath the eyes in particular), you can add the spiderlite in front and beneath your subject’s face, pointing upward. It shouldn’t be stronger than the main light, though, unless you want to make your model look terrifying.

secondary light source

These adjustments are pretty subtle. If you want a completely different image, you can change your model’s pose and tilt the soft boxes horizontally, as Kelby does once he positions her on the floor in the plank position:

exercise photography fitness

All three images are distinct, yet all three use the same lighting rig—and achieve the same softly lit results.

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