Lighting for portrait photography


I don’t really do too much portrait photography, but would love to add this as a skill set. What would your tips to someone starting up in this space be? Especially in regards to lighting a scene, or using flash or any DIY ways of lighting a scene that doesn’t require huge start up expenses?


You can try to learn with two speedflash in manual mode (any Canon compatible speedflash can be use) and wireless triggers (I use Cactus V5 and they work fine with my X-T1) with two softboxes for speedflash (from Lastolite with the Easybox model for example) or umbrella (or any another light modifier) and two lightstands . It’s pretty affordable. In my opinion, starting with speedflash in manual mode will help you to understand lightning for a reasonable price.

An another cheap solution will be to find a second hand flash studio kit.

When you are more comfortable and want to persue this kind of photography, you can search for a flash kit from Elinchrom (they are the best in my opinion regarding the quality of the light).

I’m not a studio photographer but I tried a couple of time this kind of photography. I tried with some Godox Studio Flash (workshop), Elinchrom (workshop) and Speedflash (setup at my home). Of course the best result was with Elinchrom.


Wow. Thanks so much for your reply and so quickly too. There is a lot of information there, but I’m going to enjoy dissecting this as a basis to start my research! Thanks again.


You’re welcome.

FYI, I use two Nissin i866 Mark II (Canon). But some people use with success speedflash from Yongnuo. And you will find a lot of video tutorials on Youtube. Good luck for your research.


You should read up on lighting over at the Strobist blog - Lots of great information for beginners and recommendations on basic gear.


I use YN560III w/560TX. Great combo, affordable and useful in most situations! I use it mostly with my 100S for environmental portraits outdoors and some editorial Works due the amazing leaf shutter (thanks Fuji).

Give it a shot @chriscturner


Will look into this combo. Thanks @Lino_Borges


A single speedlight, a trigger of some sort, a stand and an umbrella can do wondrous things. That’s basically the strobist 101 kit.

If the strobist blog isn’t your speed, then I will highly recommend Zack Arias’ Onelight video workshop. It’s a few bucks ($75, just looked at but less than almost every extra piece of gear and it really does a good job showing how to light people with a single light and some simple modifiers.


@Lino_Borges @dannyngan @chantal.pugin hi all. Thought I’d reopen this topic after some great answers. I came across this article about a guy making great portraits with a big mac box, a torch and some tracing paper.

Wanted to get your thoughts to see whether you think that a DIY route can still lend itself to some great results. Thought it was interesting and thought you guys might too.


Hi there, i have done a beautydish at home for good catchlight only, but portability was my main goal, thats why i get a roundflash. Great light modifier!


Start with and a couple of off camera speedlights with a trigger. Once you get that down you will know what you want from there based on the kinds of problems you want to solve and what you want the end result to look like. Most times I am using only one light and most of those time it’s the sun. Sometimes I add a speedlight and sometimes I drag out the Speedotron Black studio setup. See if you can tell what lights where used in each of these portraits.