Good lighting setup for a small portrait studio?

Trisha wrote:
I have a studio that is 13 x 13 and 10 feet high. I will be shooting with a film camera and switching to digital in a couple of months. I will be photographing mostly babies, kids and adults on backdrops and on location. What type of lighting do you recommend?

Click here to view the answer to this question


A Free Online Resource for Studio Lighting and Photography Information: Tips, Tutorials, DIY Instructions, Reviews, and Much More.

5 thoughts on “Good lighting setup for a small portrait studio?

  1. Post author

    I hope your switch to digital is a smooth one. We have covered basic lighting kits on this site and our podcast a few times. In general, I suggest you consider a small kit for starters. With such a small area, you might consider starting with a single light and a large modifier. Or, perhaps you might consider a portable lighting kit built around portable flash units. This would provide plenty of light for your small studio and allow you to take your studio with you when you go out.

    Here are a few things you should have a look at before making your decision:

    What lighting kit should I buy?

    Studio Lighting Equipment

  2. Jim


    Actually, the real question to ask is not what type of lighting is recommend, but rather what kinds of shots are you trying/wanting to get?

    Then, based on what you’re trying to get, you choose lighting to match.

    I would recommend _first_ going to to atleast find a book that discusses portrait lighting, shows how and what lights are positioned, and has pictures showing the effects, as well as what the photographer was trying to achieve.

    Then either by the book online, or at your favorite local store. Then buy lighting to match. In some cases, you can get equivalent lighting from a hardware store, and do enough photography with that, to get you to better lighting as you go along.

    Good Luck to you!
    OMP 91734

  3. cheri

    Did you find a good book to buy? I have about the same size studio and am having trouble figuring out the lighting, aperature settings, shutter speed, etc with my canon rebel digital camera. I have the Smith Victor 84K light set and all the photos turn out red or the background is washed out. I have only just begun experimenting. Can you recommend a book on digital portrait photography for dummies??

  4. Robin

    Hi Cheri,

    I am new to portrait photography in the professional sense. A good lighting source book I checked out from the local library is Basic Studio Lighting, Author Tony L. Corbell. I’ve also found some great info right here on these forums. Thanks everyone!

  5. Robin

    Now for a question of my own. I’m going to do my first portraits outside the studio. Cheerleaders in gyms, standing still for memorymates. Any advise for lighting etc.? I was going to carry my Alien Bees and shoot thru umbrella & a reflector, I have a Rebel XTi. Any thoughts or advise? I want to do a good job so I can generate more studio business. Thanks.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN 35mm Rangefinder Film Camera  picture
Yashica Electro 35 GSN 35mm Rangefinder Film Camera 
Canon IID Rangefinder  camera,
Canon IID Rangefinder camera, "Exc" From Japan#1268
[EXC++] Minolta Hi-Matic 7 Rangefinder Camera
[EXC++] Minolta Hi-Matic 7 Rangefinder Camera "1963" /Rokkor-PF 45mm F1.8 Lens
Olympus XA2 Camera Black/F.Zuiko 35mm F2.8
Olympus XA2 Camera Black/F.Zuiko 35mm F2.8 "FULLY WORKS" w/A11 Flash,Hard Case
NICE  NIKON Nikkor P.C 10.5cm f/2.5 Range Finder Lens Bundle EX+  Nikon S S2 SP  picture
NICE NIKON Nikkor P.C 10.5cm f/2.5 Range Finder Lens Bundle EX+ Nikon S S2 SP