Table of contents:

Examples of studio lighting schemes
Examples of studio lighting schemes

Professional photographers know very well that one of the key points in creating the perfect shot is well-placed light. Even when shooting outdoors, photographers carry reflectors and umbrellas with them, which allow them to direct the maximum amount of sunlight to the model. But when it comes to studio lighting schemes, things get a lot more serious.

Small introduction

Studio lighting schemes are a whole science. Of course, there are some templates that beginners work with - inexperienced photographers often use them for family or portrait photo shoots, for example, for a passport. An experienced, talented and professional photographer will always improvise. He will take into account the features of the appearance and figure of the model, the style of the photo shoot, clothes, makeup; will take into account the wishes (if this is not a DFT shooting) and, summing up all these factors, will be able to adjust the light most competently for a particular case. For those who are just getting startedkind of art, we propose to analyze patterns.

Studio lighting schemes allow you to either make the photo as bright as possible or subdued, intimate. To achieve the desired result, set the lamps as indicated in the instructions, take a couple of shots, and then correct them based on the appearance of the model. Below we present studio lighting schemes with examples.

Portrait - so much in this word…

If a modern person hears the phrase "studio portrait", a passport photo immediately comes to mind: a white background, a bright, outlined face, every detail is clearly visible - all this is due to the large number of light sources and their high brightness. But the scheme of studio light for a portrait can be completely different - dull, intimate, soft. Well, let's look at each of the options in turn:

In order for the portrait to turn out as bright, expressive, clear as possible, but at the same time artistic, interesting, not flat, but multifaceted, you need to resort to some light tricks. Four softboxes are installed: the largest is clearly behind the model, two smaller ones are behind, directed diagonally to the back of the posing person, the fourth is diagonally, but in front. The main lamp is aimed directly at the largest softbox. As a result, we get a very bright scene, but at the same time, the light does not directly and flatly illuminate the face of the model, but harmoniously fills the surrounding space

Scheme for portrait photography

There is a studio lighting scheme for artistic portraiture called"Rembrandtian" and allows you to achieve the effect of twilight, from which the face is clearly visible. The principle is based on Rembrandt's drawings - he seated his models in a 3/4 turn from the window from which direct light fell. Therefore, we also need to position the softbox (not the spotlight!) in this way, and as an addition, we can slightly highlight the background

Scheme for a portrait of Rembrandt

Soft Haze

Most often this type of lighting is chosen for intimate shooting of semi-nude models or for a thematic photo shoot where very soft and diffused light is required. This is exactly the effect the photographer achieves with the help of two huge softboxes, which are placed behind the model, each diagonally, the light is directed to the back. A light source is also installed in front of the model, muted by a reflective umbrella. It is best to take a photo with such a lighting scheme against a dark background and use auxiliary effects in the form of smoke, scattered splashes, soap bubbles, etc.

soft light effect

In the bright beams of spotlights

Some pros call this "gamine" studio lighting scheme, as the main criterion for evaluation is excessive brightness. Moreover, the rays of light from all sources are maximally focused on the model, while the background remains practically unattended. Two lamps with direct beams illuminate the back of the posing person, and a spotlight looks at him frontally, slightly muffled by an umbrella or softbox. With this position of light, the photo, the face of the model, the elements of clothing become incrediblyexpressive. Therefore, you should carefully prepare for the photo shoot and make the image perfect.

Scheme for maximum illumination of the model

The play of light and shadow

If you want expressive, crisp, juicy photos, but don't go for maximum brightness, then this two-source studio light setup is perfect. The first is mounted to the right of the photographer and illuminates the scene diagonally. It is important that it be raised to the height of human growth or slightly higher. The second source is in the back opposite corner - this is a small softbox. Another important point is the reflector. It should play the role of a straight wall running along the stage to the right of the photographer. The result is vibrant, original shots that include both the model and her shadow.

The play of light and shadow

Silhouette Shooting

If you are solely focused on the figure of the model and you don't need to see the details of her face or clothing, then you will most likely need a studio lighting silhouette scheme. It's simple: you set up two spotlights behind the model so that they illuminate her back diagonally and obscure them with black umbrellas. If you don't want to see faces at all, dim all other lights in the studio, even those that aren't in the scene. If you still need a soft beam that illuminates the face, install a small softbox that will diagonally highlight the model from the foreground.

Scheme for silhouettes

Coming from darkness

Shooting on a black background -very complicated. In order for the shots to turn out well (especially when it comes to portraits), it is best to use loop lighting. Its essence lies in the fact that one single light source is used, which is located at the level of human growth, and "looks" at the face at an angle of about 35 o.

If you choose a bright spotlight, then the photos will turn out to be contrasting - the background will not be visible, it will become deep black, and the silhouette of the model will turn out to be very bright, clear and expressive. If you dim the light or use a softbox, the background will be slightly highlighted, the model will look softer, sharpness and contrast will disappear. It is extremely important to catch the position of the shadow from the nose - it is the key to proper installation of the spotlight. The shadow should not fill the entire cheek, it should be small, slightly directed downward. You can adjust the light of the lamp based on the features of the model, the main thing is to catch this feature.

loop lighting

Butterfly lighting

Well, this is a favorite trick of all photographers who take pictures for fashion magazines and catalogs. The model in the photo is very expressive, but not too bright, the background is highlighted, but not dazzling.

So, the light source is located directly behind the photographer, it frontally "looks" at the scene, but at the same time it is raised at a level slightly higher than human height. The main signs are "butterflies" - thin shadows from the nose and chin, which fall clearly down. The scheme is both simple and very beautiful.

Butterfly lighting

Shooting indoors

Setting up the light and choosing the right sources on a simple plain paper background is a very simple task. But if you need to do the same, only against the backdrop of furniture, accessories, and other decorative elements, everything becomes more complicated.

What should be the scheme of studio lighting in an interior studio and how to competently shoot a model against the background of various objects? The main rule is not to use bright spotlights. The light is dimmed by umbrellas or reflectors and softboxes. Further, the arrangement of light sources depends on the style and preferences. You can fill the whole space with light - then the pictures will be very bright, every detail will be visible - both on the model and in the interior. If the room serves as a secondary background, then use butterfly lighting or a loop scheme.

Family photo session

Studio lighting schemes for shooting the whole family, as a rule, are selected from the brightest and lightest. There is no place for halftones, the play of light and shadow, and, of course, silhouette lighting. In most cases, studio lighting schemes for a family photo shoot are built under the “protection” of softboxes. The larger ones are set diagonally at the back, the smaller ones illuminate the faces in front and a little above - something like a "butterfly effect", but brighter. Often, elongated light sources are located on the sides and below - so that the floor and legs of the posing people do not remain in the shadow.

Lighting scheme for a family photo shoot


Setting the light is a delicate matter. Not every photographer can cope with this task and adapt to a specific model. But if there is contact, then you can intuitively arrange spotlights and softboxes, focusing on the style of the photo shoot, on the preference of the model and on its features. Don't be afraid to experiment and come up with new variations.

Popular topic