Lighting Setup for a Kitchen Portrait Session

Complex photo shoots call for complex lighting. That’s why Jay P. Morgan shows us exactly how he sets up his seven different lights for this shoot, which features Jodie Sweetin (of Full House fame) posing as a beauty queen in a disaster kitchen. Here’s how he does it:

The idea for this photo shoot began with Sweetin, who says:

“I thought it would be something really fun, and I love photography that sort of has great juxtaposition, and great opposition in photographs. So I thought that this would be a fun idea, to have the very glamourous girl in the front and everything is a disaster behind her.”

The concept is pretty simple. There’s pasta pouring out of the pot, an exploding dishwasher, food strewn across the floor and an iron blazing a hole through a shirt—all while an oblivious Sweetin mugs it up for the camera.

jay p morgan photography

But in order to create all this chaos, Morgan’s crew needed to lay everything out very deliberately. They placed a snow machine in the dishwasher—the snow effect happens to resemble suds quite well—and piped smoke machines into a pot and ironing board to add to the commotion.

Morgan is shooting with a Canon 5D Mark III and Tamron 24-70mm lens. He keeps his settings consistent—ISO 200, 1/100 shutter speed and an f/8 aperture.

Because the room’s ambient lighting was very dark, he added a total of seven lights to highlight different aspects of the set. He starts with a main key light:

key light example

Then picks up the background with a strobe shining through the window:

background fill light

Then he lights up various aspects of the scene, such as the stove and ironing board, to keep it light and cartoony:

complex lighting rig

Lastly, he added some pencil lights in the dishwasher to brighten that up.

ways to use a smoke machine

As you can see, with a wide aperture such as f/8, Morgan wants to capture as many little details as possible, keeping a vibrant and active scene. The only way to do that is to get creative with all the lights you need.

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One response to “Lighting Setup for a Kitchen Portrait Session”

  1. Haha, I love the light in the dishwasher! Genius!!!

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