Classic Studio Portraits Tutorial with a Speedlight

You don’t need much to shoot classic studio portraits. Manhattan photographer and Adorama instructor Daniel Norton takes us through a studio setup using just two speedlights and a DIY reflector:

A speedlight is another name for a hot shoe flash, a small, battery-powered flash with an adjustable head that can be either attached to your camera or used off-camera in tandem with a trigger (e.g. a Pocket Wizard) that syncs the flash with the shutter. They’re quite small, portable, and generally less expensive than standard studio lights. They don’t output quite as much light as their larger counterparts, but you can still do quite a bit with them, especially when pairing them with a modifier like a softbox.

Norton chooses to use a Chimera Shallow Softbox with his Profoto A1 as his key light and a secondary A1 through a “cookie” as his background light. For fill, he’s got a piece of insulation with silver backing.

two light setup with reflector

Of course, you’ll need the rest of the setup: a tripod, light stands, a background, but you can buy a cheap speedlight for as little as $30. (You’ll still need to buy the radio slave to trigger it.) You may not be able to get full-body shots in with just two lights, but for this application, they work well enough.

classic portraits with two speedlights

What do you think? Is starting off your studio photography with a couple of speedlights worth it or is it best to bite the bullet and invest in studio strobes?

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