The first shoot­ing in a pho­to stu­dio is the begin­ning of a big stage in which you can improve end­less­ly. How to find a bal­ance between light and cam­era set­tings? How not to ruin a pho­to shoot, for which the mod­el and you went to the oth­er end of the city, wast­ing mon­ey and time? We share sim­ple and impor­tant tips for shoot­ing in the stu­dio.

Pho­to: Eliz­a­beth Chechevic / instagram.com/chechevic_a

How to set up a camera and lighting in a photo studio

You enter the stu­dio, in the hall there is a for­est of light­ing fix­tures that need to be installed and adjust­ed. In addi­tion, there are still cam­era set­tings! Often begin­ners grab at every­thing at once — this is their main mis­take.

Cam­era set­tings. Switch to man­u­al mode to con­trol the three main para­me­ters your­self. Set ISO to 100, shut­ter speed to 1/125, aper­ture to f/8. These are aver­age uni­ver­sal set­tings for shoot­ing a por­trait of one per­son.

Leave them unchanged through­out the pho­to shoot, and adjust the amount of light in the frame only with the help of light­ing fix­tures. In this way, you will reduce the num­ber of para­me­ters that need to be tak­en into account to a min­i­mum.

If you want to exper­i­ment, change the set­tings. The val­ues ​​we pro­posed are not an axiom, but a start­ing point for a begin­ner. For exam­ple, if there is more than one per­son in the frame and you want every­one to be in focus, you can stop down to f/16.

Light set­tings. To sim­pli­fy the task, put the source at a fixed dis­tance from the mod­el and do not move any more. To find the right expo­sure for your pho­to, set the pow­er to medi­um and take a test shot. Now you can see what to do next — increase or decrease pow­er. Move it in incre­ments of 0.5 pow­er points until you get the desired result.

This will elim­i­nate the need to rush around the hall with the stand, at the same time chang­ing the set­tings at ran­dom. If you still decide to move the light clos­er or far­ther, move it and start set­ting from the begin­ning.

Pho­to: Eliz­a­beth Chechevic / instagram.com/chechevic_a

Do not set the light source to max­i­mum pow­er — some­times the pho­to stu­dio indi­cates this moment in the rental agree­ment of the hall, and if the employ­ees see that you have vio­lat­ed the rule, you will have to pay the penal­ty spec­i­fied in the con­tract. So the stu­dio is try­ing to pro­tect its equip­ment, which you will have to pay for in case of a break­down, and to pre­vent traf­fic jams from fly­ing out.

  • Set­ting up mul­ti­ple light sources. If, as planned, the mod­el should illu­mi­nate sev­er­al devices, set them up one by one, not turn­ing them all on at once. Arrange at the desired dis­tance, turn on the first source, adjust the pow­er, as in the pre­vi­ous para­graph. When the light is right, add a sec­ond fix­ture, and so on. So you will know exact­ly how a par­tic­u­lar light source affects the pic­ture and where the over­ex­po­sure came from.

If you are shoot­ing against a sol­id back­ground, then mark the place where the mod­el should stand with tape, and ask her not to leave this point. So you do not have to fol­low her around the room, rear­rang­ing and adjust­ing the sources. It is much eas­i­er to ask a per­son to turn around than to change the light­ing scheme for each frame.

Working with light for beginners in a photo studio

How to evenly light a model

There are two meth­ods, apart from post-pro­cess­ing in graph­ic edi­tors, that will help illu­mi­nate the mod­el in full in a full-length por­trait.

  • Illu­mi­nate the mod­el with strip­box­es (a strip­box is an elon­gat­ed noz­zle for stu­dio light­ing, a kind of soft­box), plac­ing them on both sides of the mod­el. To achieve uni­form light­ing, you need three sources — two on the sides and one to illu­mi­nate the mod­el as a whole.
  • If by design or due to cir­cum­stances there is only one light source, put a soft­box on it and lift it so that it is slight­ly high­er than the mod­el. Point the light down as far as the stand will allow so that it actu­al­ly shines on the floor.
Get ready to take the time to find the per­fect angle for the direc­tion of the light source / Illus­tra­tion by the author

It would be a mis­take to low­er the rack with the light down so that it shines into the belt, although log­i­cal­ly it seems that this way the light will reach both the face and the legs. But no. Most like­ly, you will only get ugly shad­ows and face light­ing from the bot­tom up, as in hor­ror, when the hero shines a flash­light on his chin.

The sec­ond mis­take is to put two light sources on top of each oth­er so that one illu­mi­nates the legs, and the oth­er tor­so and head. There is a high prob­a­bil­i­ty of get­ting strange shad­ows and spoil­ing the pic­ture.

How to make hard or soft light

Soft light is smooth, as if shad­ed and fair­ly light shad­ows, with­out dis­tinct glare. With hard light, the oppo­site is true — the shad­ow itself is rich black with a clear­ly vis­i­ble out­line, and the high­lights are bright.

  • To get soft light, place the source as close to the mod­el as pos­si­ble. Umbrel­las, soft­box­es are suit­able for noz­zles.
  • Hard light is obtained if no attach­ments are placed on the sources. You can also use the type of noz­zles, which are called hon­ey­combs, tube, reflec­tor — they give a sharp direc­tion­al light. Soft­box­es, small octo­box­es are also suit­able.

Remem­ber an impor­tant rule — the far­ther the light is from the mod­el, the hard­er it is, and vice ver­sa.

You can dive into the top­ic of such a light, acces­sories and fas­ten­ings to it, under­stand the types of umbrel­las and soft­box­es, as well as their device, in our mate­r­i­al.

How to get beautiful shadows

Often, for begin­ners, shad­ows spread over half of the face, great­ly dark­en the eyes, or grow in a “beak” to the side of the nose or under it.

The aes­thet­ics and qual­i­ty of the shad­ows is affect­ed by the loca­tion of the light rel­a­tive to the mod­el. For exam­ple, if you put the source frontal­ly, behind the pho­tog­ra­ph­er, the light will turn out to be flat, and the model’s face will be devoid of vol­ume. The built-in flash or a remov­able flash on the cam­era, direct­ed “on the fore­head”, gives the same effect.

It is bet­ter to put the light on your left or right. Then a black and white pat­tern will appear on the mod­el, which will make the pic­ture volu­mi­nous, live­ly and inter­est­ing.

After that, exper­i­ment — raise the source high­er to bet­ter illu­mi­nate the face, and the shad­ows look more nat­ur­al. This option is more famil­iar to the eye, because we are used to see­ing an object illu­mi­nat­ed by the sun from top to bot­tom.

If you put the light source behind the mod­el, in the pho­to you will get only a sil­hou­ette, a con­tour.

Secrets of working with a studio background

We tell you how to work with sol­id back­grounds — black, white and gray. They are uni­ver­sal, they are avail­able in almost any stu­dio in the form of paper rolls or cyclo­rams (cyclo­rama — a design for pho­tog­ra­phy with­out right angles, which allows you to get a sol­id back­ground with­out shad­ows). In addi­tion, it is cheap­er to rent a hall with a sol­id back­ground than an inte­ri­or room, there is noth­ing to dis­tract from set­ting up the light and work­ing with the mod­el — ide­al for train­ing a begin­ner.

How to get a white background in the studio

The main mis­takes are to put the mod­el too close to the back­ground or feel sor­ry for the light sources. Often a novice pho­tog­ra­ph­er sim­ply turns the set­tings on one device to the max­i­mum, hop­ing that this way the light will reach the back­ground and whiten it. This is part­ly true, but there is a high risk of over­ex­pos­ing the mod­el, get­ting unnec­es­sary shad­ows.

  • Adjust the light on the mod­el and put her away from the back­ground.
  • Add two more lights to the light­ing scheme, plac­ing them on either side of the mod­el and aim­ing at the back­ground. So it will get a uni­form and suf­fi­cient amount of light from both sides.
Make sure that sources do not fall into the frame, or pre­pare to remove them in post-pro­cess­ing with a stamp or crop / Illus­tra­tion by the author

How to get a black background when shooting in a studio

  • Place the mod­el as far away from the back­ground as pos­si­ble so that the light does not reach the wall or paper and does not reflect from them.
  • Move the light clos­er to the mod­el. Nat­u­ral­ly, it is nec­es­sary to reduce the pow­er of the source.
  • Block the light source from the back­ground with a black flag (black screen with legs). If it is not in the hall, ask the staff.
If pos­si­ble, cur­tain all win­dows, turn off unnec­es­sary lamps. This is a must if you are work­ing with con­stant light, not flashed light / Illus­tra­tion by the author

It is bet­ter to warn in advance when book­ing what you will need for the shoot, as some­times the equip­ment in the pho­to stu­dio is less than the halls.

  • Close the aper­ture more.
  • If pos­si­ble by design and not afraid of hard light, get a noz­zle that gives a nar­row beam of light — this will reduce the like­li­hood of the back­ground being high­light­ed. For exam­ple, a tube, hon­ey­combs, a beau­ty dish will do.

How to change the color of black and white backgrounds

If you need a back­ground of a cer­tain col­or, it is not nec­es­sary to go through all the halls of the city in search of that very shade of pale pink or green. Make it your­self!

To get a del­i­cate light col­or with low sat­u­ra­tion, such as blue or pink, you need a white back­ground, as well as blue or red fil­ters. The most sat­u­rat­ed and rich col­ors give black or gray back­grounds.

The same red fil­ter on black and white back­grounds / Pho­to: Eliza­ve­ta Chechevit­sa / instagram.com/chechevic_a

Ask the stu­dio staff for an addi­tion­al light source with a reflec­tor and attach a fil­ter of the desired col­or to it. You don’t need to take any­thing with you — in the stu­dios there are always sets of fil­ters with dif­fer­ent shades, as well as adhe­sive tape to attach them. In some stu­dios, the pho­to fil­ters are built into square iron plates that fit into the reflec­tor.

Aim the source with the col­or fil­ter at the back­ground so that the light does not fall on the mod­el. Help your­self with the cur­tains that are on the reflec­tors — close them so as to block the light from the mod­el.

Summing up

If it’s your first time in the stu­dio, don’t try every­thing at once. Choose the fol­low­ing cam­era set­tings: ISO 100, shut­ter speed 1/125, aper­ture f/8. Do not change them through­out the shoot­ing, adjust­ing only the light out­put.

Put light to a fixed mood from the mod­el and mark the place from which you ask her not to leave. To find the right pow­er, start adjust­ing from the aver­age val­ue, grad­u­al­ly rais­ing or low­er­ing it.

If there are sev­er­al light sources, turn on and adjust them one by one.

To illu­mi­nate the mod­el when tak­ing a full-length shot, illu­mi­nate it from both sides strip­box­es. If there is only one source, tilt it so that it shines strong­ly down into the legs of the mod­el.

Soft light is obtained with the help of umbrel­las and soft­box­es, hard light — either with­out noz­zles, or with the help of reflec­tors, hon­ey­combs, tubes.

The clos­er the light is to the mod­el, the soft­er it is.

In order for the mod­el to have a beau­ti­ful black and white pat­tern, raise the light high­er and do not place it frontal­ly, behind you.

To get the per­fect white back­ground, illu­mi­nate it with addi­tion­al light sources.

To obtain Black back­groundput the mod­el away from the back­ground, choose noz­zles that give a hard direc­tion­al light, block the source with a flag from the back­ground, turn off unnec­es­sary lamps.

To col­orize black or white back­ground, high­light them with light fil­ters. On a black back­ground, the col­ors will turn out bright and sat­u­rat­ed, a white back­ground gives del­i­cate, light shades.