On-Location Photography Tip: Use a Mini Softbox for Portraits

Lighting in portrait photography can be tricky, especially if you’re not in a studio setting or if you’re working by yourself. You don’t want to be lugging huge softboxes and extra equipment around everywhere. Or constantly stopping the shoot to move those softboxes around. In this case, a small, portable softbox can be a real life saver that still contributes to flawless portraits:

In the above video, photographer Joe McNally uses his Ezybox Speed-Lite Plus to effectively create focused lighting on his model in an outdoor photo shoot. Using the small, mobile light shaping tool, McNally teaches us how to create beautifully lit, stunning portraits. He easily moves the speedlight and softbox around the model to create shadows that portray an ominous appearance, define chiseled features, and emphasize character.

softbox for portrait photography

You have to be careful when using a small source like this, because the smaller the light shaper, the more harsh and spectral the light can appear. McNally says, as a photographer using a softbox, you need to experiment with the lighting. Move, direct your subject, relate to them, talk to them, play with the light. With a small softbox, it’s easy to do this.

If you’re working by yourself or with only one other person, and you need to be mobile and light, a small softbox is a great solution; it gives you a nice, quality light and it moves fast with you. You can position it very easily and move it around as you desire.

portrait photography

While this softbox may not look like much, it has many of the same characteristics of a bigger softbox. It has an interior baffle, an interior diffuser that velcros in, as well as an exterior diffuser. When he uses it, McNally leaves the dome diffuser on in his strobe, and with the box’s two diffusers, he is triple diffusing his light to eliminate harshness.

photography softbox

If you want to add warmth to the image, you can try a banded gold diffuser. It’s always worth it to experiment!

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2 responses to “On-Location Photography Tip: Use a Mini Softbox for Portraits”

  1. Great video from Joe McNally, as usual, and beautiful pictures!

    What I’d like to know, though, is what’s that flash holder Joe is using, and where can I get them.

  2. Harry M Joseph says:

    Great but what aperture/speed do you use. And do you use ETTL or manual ?

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