How to Take Beautiful Portraits in Small Spaces

After your have seen this video, you will no longer complain that you don’t have a professional studio. Miguel Quiles is a portrait and wedding photographer, and to demonstrate that you don’t need more than just a few feet of space to shoot gorgeous images, he sets up a session in a small area right in his living room:

“When I first started building my photography portfolio I would often shoot in spaces just like this.”

Equipment for Portraits in Small Spaces

  1. Canon 5D Mark III
  2. 85mm f/1.2L lens
  3. Lee filter setup with a 3-stop ND filter
  4. A collapsible backdrop made by Savage which comes with a stand
  5. A small octodome made by PhotoFlex
  6. A 400 Watt Flexflash by PhotoFlex
  7. PocketWizard Plus III triggers
  8. White foam board reflector for bouncing some of the strobe light back onto the subject’s face

lighting setup for a living room photo shoot

Settings for a Small Space Portrait Shoot

Quiles set up the octodome on camera right with the model standing two feet away from it. The backdrop was a further two feet behind the subject, and there was a large window on camera left.

Quiles coached his model so that he gave a different expression each time the flash was fired. Quiles says, “This ensures that I end up with a bunch of different looks that I can choose from in the end.”

Here are a few images from the shoot:

portrait photography in small places

portrait photography

For budding portrait photographers Quiles has a word of advice,

“In my first year as a studio photographer I did photo shoots just like this one with about 40 to 50 different models, and it really helped me refine my process. I encourage you to shoot often as it helps you improve your process.”

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3 responses to “How to Take Beautiful Portraits in Small Spaces”

  1. j.d.hunter says:

    thanks for this, very informative

  2. Steve says:

    Just for giggles and grins Miguel, I would have liked to see you do this segment with equipment that you had when you started out. Not because I doubt that you could achieve similar results, but am more curious as to how the final image looked. Now of course if when you started taking portraits you had all this gear then my comment is moot.

  3. Tom Dubowski says:

    Can you explain your edit in the last photo? Would like to know the style. Thanks

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