How to Shoot Classic Portraits in Incredibly Tight Spaces

Portrait photographers don’t always have the luxury of working in a nice large studio with loads of room to shuffle strobes and modifiers. If you’ve ever wondered how to get classic, timeless results when shooting in cramped, often improvised spaces, check out this short video.

Photographer Glyn Dewis explains how he draws on years of experience of shooting in random places in order to create surprisingly simple setups that deliver consistent results. Shooting situations are rarely perfect once you’re outside of the studio, especially when entering other people’s homes, and being able to improvise and come away with a good shot often means keeping things simple — both in terms of gear and technique. Dewis mentions how stripping back his gear makes shooting easier, but it will also make the process a lot quicker, making your work more efficient and taking up less of your subject’s time.

If you’re interested in the backdrop that Dewis is using — the 5 x 7’ Vintage Gray by Glyn Dewis — it’s available on B&H Photo for just $69.90. You will also find the Westcott FJ400 400Ws strobe and the Westcott Rapid Box Switch Octa-L Softbox.

Do you have a similar setup for shooting portraits on location? Let us know your setup in the comments below.

Log in or register to post comments

11 Comments

David Love's picture

This is the kind of videos I like. He didn't spend the first 2 minutes of the video screaming for subs or likes and not once did he take a break for story*****s or some other site. He had the work he's done using the style he's teaching rather than someone yapping away in each video but never showing actual work they've done. Guess this is the difference between a working photographer and a youtube influencer.

Dana Goldstein's picture

Yes quite similar. Here's the setup I've been using for a current portrait series, which gives me two different lighting options. (The camera in the lower corner is an extra which I set up on intervalometer to take BTS shots when I don't have an assistant with me.)

Lawrence S's picture

Great straight forward tips and tricks, I must say. But I'm not a big fan of that very selective dreamy look (see video at 09:30, watch it full screen). Why are the clothes completely faded out, yet the hands and face have higher contrast? To me it looks like a masking mistake in Photoshop and very artificial. It distracts me from the actual portrait - which is very high quality, given the circumstances.

David Love's picture

It's called "How to Shoot Classic Portraits in Incredibly Tight Spaces" not "Hey guy that refuses to post pics here or links to his own work, please judge my work."

Lawrence S's picture

That doesn't make any sense at all. That's not how a comment section works. Ever. And amazingly, it's not even your work or video. Imagine the author lowering himself to that kind of bullsh*t.
Please take a deep breath and at least try to act like an adult. It might prevent you from looking like an overly sensitive idiot.

David Love's picture

While I'm taking that deep breath, post some of your pics so I can judge them. Don't hide in the shadows of the web while telling people what they should do with their images. People post images they are happy with, so you saying it's not you're not a fan of what they did means nothing. Do you think he's going to rip down the pics and edit them to meet your preference? Who's the adult here?

Lawrence S's picture

Show us the guidelines of this website that state where you can only post comments if you have shown your own work first. Or that you can't comment on the work shown and only discuss a topic. Or authors that end their article with the disclaimer "Please only comment if you have pictures in your profile". Seeing how emotionally you are getting, there must be a list of hundreds examples you can give us.
If not... this is obviously all just based on your own petty opinion and you might think about reconsidering your priorities. I'll wait.

David Love's picture

"Everyone loves a critic" said nobody ever.

Lawrence S's picture

You don't even realise the raw irony of your own comment. You're the one who took the time and effort to start to criticise me for having an opinion - like everyone else on this website - about a retouch detail of a photo that has no connection with you whatsoever, no less.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Sorry, but that's not an "incredibly tight" space. Not even close. To be fair, it's Fstoppers who added the "incredibly tight" language. The video actually calls the space "limited", which, of course, it is, because nobody shoots portraits in outer space.
This is more what I had in mind when I saw the title.
https://www.happening.photos/blog/2012/8/headshot-in-a-tiny-room

Ayokunle Omoyeni's picture

Thank you for this tutorial, Andy !