Should You Use Strobes or Continuous Lights for Your Portrait Photos?

Strobes have long been the choice of artificial lighting for photographers, but in recent years, there have been major advancements in the power and capabilities of constant lights, and some photographers have begun to use them for their work. This excellent video tutorial discusses the pros and cons of each to help you choose the right option for your work. 

Coming to you from Jiggie Alejandrino, this helpful video tutorial will show you how to choose between strobes and continuous lights. When choosing between the two, probably the most important consideration you need to make is the amount of power you normally need. Generally, strobes will offer more power than continuous lights. If you are working in a studio, that might not be a huge problem, but if you are working outside, where you will often have to compete with the sun, you might find continuous lights struggling to give you the power you need. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Alejandrino. 

If you would like to continue learning about how to light a portrait, be sure to check out "Illuminating The Face: Lighting for Headshots and Portraits With Peter Hurley," which is currently on sale along with the rest of the Fstoppers store! 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Nice article. For portraiture, I would just add the impact on the sitter. Bright continuous lights can be quite hard for your sitter to get used to - especially if the ambient is quite low. That can impact their mood and their presentation to the camera in the session (especially for 'normal people' - ie. not models). Some people don't like flash but generally I find people are more OK with flash than a bright continuous light in their faces.

I find even small children become more comfortable with flash than with a continuous light bright enough to use the faster shutter speeds that it takes to freeze their fidgeting.