Lighting Schemes for Studio Photo Shoots: Setting Up the Perfect Lighting

Studio lighting and equipment. Picture courtesy: J Schmelzer

Lighting Schemes for Studio Photo Shoots: Setting Up the Perfect Lighting

10:45 28 April in Photography Blog

Lighting Schemes for Studio Photo Shoots: Setting Up the Perfect LightingWhether you’re a professional or someone who is just starting out, you could be wondering how you can choose the best lighting schemes for studio photo shoots. The pros use all sorts of schemes and techniques to get the perfect lighting for your photos, and you probably already know that proper lighting is key if you want to take pictures that you can be proud of.

Photo Equipment You Will Need

If you aren’t sure which lighting schemes you would like to use for your photographs, you will probably need quite a bit of equipment so that you can play around with different methods and techniques until you find the perfect one. Here are a few pieces that you will probably want to have on hand when choosing and setting up your photo shoot:

  • Light Stands

You will need to position your lights at different heights and at different angles for various lighting schemes for studio photo shoots, so you will need at least two light stands.

  • Flash Heads

There are various types of flash heads, but two of the most common ones are flash tubes and modeling lights.

  • Umbrella

A photography umbrella, which is most commonly known in the business as a brolly, is used to reflect light from your flash back onto your subject.

  • Softbox

Softboxes are used for similar purposes as umbrellas, but they are a bit more advanced. They create small tents that are used for reflecting light.

  • Honeycomb or Snoot

These pieces are used to soften and direct light.

  • Reflector

Reflectors are very handy for reflecting light and are used in various lighting techniques. You might have an assistant hold the reflector to help you get the perfect shot, and in some cases, the model can hold the reflector to get the perfect lighting.

All of this equipment might seem rather costly, but you don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money. If you rent a photo studio for a couple of hours, you should have access to all of this equipment and even more as a part of your rental fee, which can help you save money while still allowing you to work with all of the professional-quality equipment that you need for the perfect photography session.

Tips for Choosing the Best Lighting Schemes for Studio Photo Shoots

Different lighting schemes work well for different shots. Playing around with the various lighting schemes for studio photo shoots can show you which ones are best for your subject and skill level.

  • Rembrandt
Rembrandt lighting scheme

Rembrandt lighting scheme

Great for showcasing and creating depth in more artistic shots, the Rembrandt studio lighting scheme is relatively easy to pull off but can provide you with the perfect lighting for your shots.

With this scheme, you will use a large reflector on one side of your subject. The reflector shouldn’t be directly beside the model; it should generally be just a few inches away. Across from your reflector, you should position your light. It should be set at about six feet tall, although this will vary based on your model. Position it at a 45 degree angle in relation to your subject. This will provide the key light, which is a strong light from slightly above and beside the model or other subject.

You should be able to see a small triangle of light on the face of your model; if you don’t, you might need to slightly reposition your reflector and light. When you take your pictures, you can stand between and behind your lights, right in line with your subject.

  • Clamshell
Clamshell lighting scheme

Clamshell lighting scheme

If you want to capture every detail and enjoy nice, even lighting, the Clamshell lighting scheme for studio photo shoots could be the perfect option. The lighting will be a bit flat but even, which makes it perfect for beauty-type shots.

You will need to have two softboxes on hand. They should be positioned on either side of your model but slightly in front of him or her. They should both be pointing toward the model and should be equally spaced and equally positioned. The power and lighting level of each softbox should also be set equally.

If necessary, you can use a reflector to reflect the light onto the subject’s face. In many cases, you can simply have the model hold the reflector underneath his or her face or in the lap, where it can’t be seen by the camera.

  • Backlight
Backlight lighting scheme

Backlight lighting scheme

Unlike the first two techniques, the Backlight technique uses lighting behind the model as well as on the sides. With this technique, a light is placed directly behind the model with either a snoot or honeycomb accessory; these accessories are used to soften the lights and to narrow their beam.

The light should be placed facing the back of the model’s head and the camera; this is so that it lights up the back of the subject’s head and adds a bit of depth and drama. It’s also a nice way to create a visual bit of separation from the backdrop or background. Obviously, you will need to make sure that the light itself isn’t visible when you snap the picture, but the lighting should be.

  • Rim
Rim lighting scheme

Rim lighting scheme

The Rim studio lighting scheme is a bit more dramatic and exciting than the other common methods. It utilizes light and shadows to create good definition. Both lights will need to be slightly behind the model, on either side. They should be pointing toward the camera. You will need to careful adjust the lights until you get the right effect, but it will be worthwhile when you are able to take these exciting and dramatic photos. You might want to have an assistant stand on the sidelines with a reflector, and you may need to use a lens hood or shield to help prevent blinding from the lights.

Choosing the right lighting schemes for studio photo shoots shouldn’t be stressful; it should be fun. At your next photography session, consider these popular schemes, and play around with your equipment to come up with new ideas for taking great shots.

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