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Learn the very basics of studio lighting to get you started.

Watch Studio Lighting Basics on YouTube

Everyone wants to learn studio lighting! It can be the pinnacle of photography: being able to control every nuance of a photograph from the quality of light to the person's pose.  Control also requires the experience to create a good image.  My video today I go over how to get started in studio photography with building your own lighting kit and some basic posing techniques I use on a regular basis.

Studio Lighting Kit

First thing you need is lights. I recommend Alien Bee or White Lightning strobes from Paul C. Buff.
Second is stands (click images to see product on Amazon.com) Good stands are indespensible and totally worth the money.  alt alt
Next up is modifiers.  Get at least one softbox and one umbrella, don't forget to buy the speed ring!
Backgrounds & Stands alt alt
This is a kit in inself.  Just add your strobe for portable lighting in any situation!  I use it all the time.
Here is the bracket to allow angling a strobe on a stand. Only buy it if you don't buy the above kit since that kit comes with one!
Color checker chart, insures accurate white balance in any situation. alt
Bags alt

Did I miss something? Let me know! Here is the lighting setup I used for the video.

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Comments  

 
0 # Chris Chadwick 2011-07-22 13:22
Hi Greg, I had three Bowens 500w heads but found them too powerful for the small sized room I had. I sold these and get great results using Nikon SB900s with Lastolite Ezybox soft boxes and umbrellas. I now use these for all my portrait work.
Keep up the great work. Chris aka theoldnikonian
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0 # Kleemy 2011-07-22 14:06
That all sounds good and pretty easy to manage. Thank you Greg. Do have any proposals how many square meters a home-studio should possess?
Best regards Olaf
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0 # Matthew Reinhold 2011-07-22 16:20
Can you provide links to the items in your setup and one of each of the items you recommend instead of just saying to get good ones? I've been looking to start buying studio equipment an it's all a bit overwhelming to find quality items for the right price (not the cheapest price necessarily, just a fair one that makes me feel like I made a good purchase for what I spent) with all of these bargain brands popping out at me everywhere.
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0 # Robert Jimenez 2011-07-22 16:39
Hi Greg, are any of the lights other than the backdrop light continuous. Or are they all strobe?
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-07-22 17:18
Quoting Robert Jimenez:
Hi Greg, are any of the lights other than the backdrop light continuous. Or are they all strobe?

All strobe.
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+1 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-07-22 17:28
Quoting Matthew Reinhold:
Can you provide links to the items in your setup and one of each of the items you recommend instead of just saying to get good ones? I've been looking to start buying studio equipment an it's all a bit overwhelming to find quality items for the right price (not the cheapest price necessarily, just a fair one that makes me feel like I made a good purchase for what I spent) with all of these bargain brands popping out at me everywhere.

Uh, thats what I did. Read the whole post!
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+1 # Ved Prakash Upadhyay 2011-07-23 03:54
Great tutorial again, thanks for sharing!
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0 # Gary Thursby 2011-07-23 09:37
Vegas next weekend G! Awesome video! what about using a light meter for exposing the face correctly? Or can you use spot metering in camera?
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+1 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-07-23 12:26
Quoting Gary Thursby:
Vegas next weekend G! Awesome video! what about using a light meter for exposing the face correctly? Or can you use spot metering in camera?

You need an incident meter to measure flash, doesn't work with spot meter.
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+1 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-07-23 12:27
Quoting Kleemy:
That all sounds good and pretty easy to manage. Thank you Greg. Do have any proposals how many square meters a home-studio should possess?
Best regards Olaf

As much as possible...
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+1 # Brian 2011-07-23 12:35
Awesome video! The links to the equipment really helped me out a lot! Thanks for doing what you do!
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+1 # Louise 2011-07-23 13:29
I just wanted to add a big +1 for Alien Bees. I use them for all my location work and Paul Buff's customer service is among the best around.
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+1 # Roman 2011-07-23 21:18
Very good video Greg! would be even more helpful if you would actually in studio photoshoot and tell us how u set up light (power) and camera settings :) thank u very much for teaching us
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0 # Jucá Costa 2011-07-24 17:46
Hey, Greg, embedded YouTube video isn't appearing in the RSS Feed. It's too bad for people that read the site through RSS, like me. Please fix it!
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0 # Mike 2011-07-25 19:20
The Manfrotto 026 umbrella swivel is far, far superior to the Photoflex for just a few dollars more. The Manfrotto is way smoother and sturdier, totally worth paying a little more for.
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0 # Mike 2011-07-25 19:21
Quoting Roman:
Very good video Greg! would be even more helpful if you would actually in studio photoshoot and tell us how u set up light (power) and camera settings :) thank u very much for teaching us


I disagree - the best way to learn is to experiment, not by copying other people's setting.
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0 # John Costello 2011-07-26 04:58
Greg,
Great video please keep up the good work.
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-07-31 16:18
Quoting Mike:
The Manfrotto 026 umbrella swivel is far, far superior to the Photoflex for just a few dollars more. The Manfrotto is way smoother and sturdier, totally worth paying a little more for.

I'll have to try it out, thanks!
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0 # Ben 2011-07-31 21:45
Greg, great video. For someone who wishes to buy there first stobe as there main & only light for a small home studio - what power do you suggest we aim for?
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-08-03 11:10
Quoting Ben:
Greg, great video. For someone who wishes to buy there first stobe as there main & only light for a small home studio - what power do you suggest we aim for?


As much as you can afford! A set of Alien Bees would be fine.
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0 # Jorge Sáenz 2012-11-07 20:22
Hi Greg: Great tutorial, I just have a question ... is the backdrop ligth a continuous light or is it also a strobe?
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2012-11-12 12:34
I use strobe most of the time, these lights are strobes with modeling lights.
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0 # Jp Armstrong 2013-01-07 01:27
I'm a "baller on a budget" so alien bee is a no-go. I have a wireless strobe for my Sony a65, can I just get a 600W Day Light Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit by LimoStudio for now and attach my strobe to the umbrella for now?
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2013-01-09 12:18
I guess you could but I would rather see you save your $$$ and invest in more portable strobes instead of a studio lighting kit like Alien Bees or White Lightnings.
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0 # Tony 2014-09-11 14:19
Thanks very much for the helpful information.

I wanted to take the time to say thank you because not only is your advice valuable; your effort to help others is sincerely appreciated and gratefully acknowledged. I am just starting out to set up and learn studio portrait photography.
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