How to Create Broad Portrait Lighting in Your Home

Family portrait photographers know too well how tricky it can be to create an effective lighting rig at home. Kids move, furniture is everywhere, windows vary in size. This video, hosted by portrait photographer Tamara Lackey, gives a solid overview of what might come up when working from home, and why a broad, basic lighting rig is the best option to cover your bases:

Lights: You Only Need Three

Tamara works with three lights and a wide open window. On a cloudy day like the one she’s shooting on, the window doesn’t do much good, but she balances it with a large foam card to bounce off the soft reflective light.

She creates a variation on the traditional three-point lighting rig by placing one large 220-volt portrait light in front of her subject–she uses the Westscott Spiderlite TD6 in front–and two smaller ones, like TD5s, on the subject’s sides, pointing in between the subject and the backdrop.


A broad lighting setup keeps kids lit up, even if they roam while you’re trying to shoot.

Though the broad lighting will light the image a bit flatly, the sacrifice is worth it–shadow adjustments can be made in Photoshop afterwards, but it’s harder to light up a dark face.


This type of lighting setup might not work in more cramped spaces, but the idea of using broad, even light can be modified to work in smaller homes or studios. It’s an especially useful technique for photographing children and pets who are prone to moving about during portrait sessions.

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