Quick portable lighting setup for parties

David wrote:

First of all, I just want to tell you how incredible your web site is! Finally I can find a place that can take a lot of the guesswork out of my lighting problems!

What I need to know is this. I do a lot of “instant pictures” on site at parties, weddings, family reunions, etc. I have a nice two-sided blue/tan muslin backdrop and I am using a Canon Powershot Pro 1 8MP camera. I just recently got this great inexpensive light setup on ebay, which includes two strobe/slave flashes on 7′ stands. I need to know what would be the best light placement in this situation, given that I take full-body and portrait pictures interchangably and don’t have time to change the lights with every shot. My main problem is trying to eliminate shadows.

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3 thoughts on “Quick portable lighting setup for parties

  1. StudioLighting.netStudioLighting.net Post author

    You did not mention the type of light modifiers that came with your setup, but this will have a very large impact on your shadows. A large umbrella or softbox will provide you with soft shadows and give you less to worry about in the final shot. If you are looking for a quick setup that you won’t have to change a lot, consider placing the lights 45 degrees from the subjects at the distance that provides the most pleasing shadows. To adjust your fill ratio, adjust the power of one light. Other basic setups will perform well for you once your modifiers are in place.

    Thanks for the compliments!

  2. Mike

    Also, make sure to position the subjects a decent distance forward from the background. This will soften shadows too.

    Related to the umbrellas and here too it depends on size, position them at head level or possibly one just above head level and the other just below. It depends a lot on number of subjects and their position.

    In general I agree with the 45 degree suggestion above, but one thing to watch for is when you shoot groups where there are people behind others for example in a two row arrangement. In these sitations you may have to move one or both of your lights on the same arc line but closer to your camera. The risk you run at 45 is that the closer rows block the light for the back rows.

    If you do a lot of group shots like this, you may want to consider adding a third light above the camera position set to fill.

    For this type of speculative sale photography, you have to pay the most attention to the faces. If you find that you are under powered or under lit and have to sacrafice, sacrifice body lighting maximizing your face lighting. Perhaps cropping in tighter on the faces.

    If they don’t like how their faces are lit/look, they won’t buy.


  3. Vickie

    Hi – hoping someone can give me some advise quick. I am trying to take pictures for ebay listings of clothes. I have mannequin. Now am wondering how much lights will help picture taking. Also, if I get lights.. what happens if I do not get the umbrella? Are they needed. . if so black or white? Can you tell I am new.. I am a willing learner.. but just do not want to invest a fortune in things that I may not need.


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