Low-Tech Studio Photography Lighting Hacks

Looking for ways to improve your studio setup, but lack the funds for fancy lighting? Photographer Brooke Shaden has some easy, inexpensive tips for you:

You’ll need an assistant or two for this technique. Shaden sets up a light behind her model and decides that the shot isn’t quite what she was aiming for, so she brings in an assistant with a household lamp (you probably have one of these somewhere, right?):

A common household lamp provides an additional light source.

A common household lamp provides an additional light source.

The resulting image:

undiffused portrait lighting

Portrait Lit with a Table Lamp

The light in this is a little too harsh for the photographer’s taste. Shaden recruits a fancy diffuser—a sheet of paper, in this case, which reduces the harsh light of the lamp. You can also use tissue paper or a pillowcase to diffuse the light.

A little help from friends and a household can help your photoshoot.

A little help from friends and a household can help your photo shoot.

This one is better, but there’s still not quite enough light. The area around the model’s arm is particularly dark, so Shaden brings in another assistant with some more supplies (in this case, a floor lamp).

Two light sources and two assistants are better than one.

Two light sources and two assistants are better than one.

The resulting shot has better illumination and a nicer overall light on the model:

inexpensive studio lighting tricks

The Final Choice

The background supplies will take a little clean up in Photoshop, but Shaden is pleased with the overall result.

Supplies

  • Household lamps
  • Paper, a pillowcase, or something similar to use as a diffuser
  • Friends or paid assistants
  • Photoshop or other editing software to clean up the background

Fancy equipment is great to have, but this photo shoot shows that you can get by with a little help from your friends (and stuff you can find in your house). Have fun!

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2 responses to “Low-Tech Studio Photography Lighting Hacks”

  1. Tim Reardon says:

    what if youre solo without any assistants? why not just simply put the background lamp on a table and the foreground floor lamp set on the floor? ;-)

  2. Lisa Schauer says:

    That would certainly work, Tim! The assistants were helpful in this case because Shaden could direct them to move the light sources around until she saw the shot she wanted. That said, you could do it on your own quite easily with a bit more legwork. :)

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