10 Simple Portrait Lighting Setups for You to Try

There are myriad ways you can light your subject in portraiture, and whether you're jaded by your go-to setup, or overwhelmed as to where to start, this video can help you add some more styles to your arsenal.

Honestly, I love videos like this. I may have been shooting for a long time at this point, but the value in these sorts of videos is still there as it reminds me of setups I might have forgotten or overlooked. However, when I was starting out, this sort of content was exactly what I needed to learn how to light my subject differently.

For years, I would experiment with every different lighting setup I saw, just to get a feel for the results. It took longer than I expected to really pay off, and it perhaps didn't pay off how I expected either, but it certainly did come through. By practicing lots of different lighting styles, I had many solutions locked up and ready to go. Usually, I would decide how I would light my subject far before the day, but on occasion, I was thrown curve balls. Either the location had to change, it was a last-minute request, or someone changed their mind, and suddenly, I'm in a position where I have to pivot and quickly.

One example is when I was shooting a small magazine editorial and the location we were meant to go was now occupied by people too important to be unseated. So, we had a tiny meeting room to work with, an hour, and no help. My plans were incinerated and I had to work out how to light my subject in a small, dark space, and get something I wanted at the end. I couldn't have done that without a decent selection of setups courtesy of educational videos like this one!

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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A guy who's using a lightmeter with a digital camera ... Instant cringe.

I’d follow this guy anywhere, 35 years of experience here, forget hes using light meter and pay attention to beautiful imagery