Great portraits can be created anywhere and in this video, we’re showing you 5 simple portrait setups in your own home! We created this video in my very own home to show you just how easy it is to capture professional portraits in the space you live in. Hopefully, this helps you see the pockets of your own home in a new way and the wheels of imagination start turning on what you can create within your four walls. A special shoutout to Samyang for sponsoring this video and to Chelsea for being our amazing model.
Gear Used in Tutorial
- Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8
- Samyang 45mm f/1.8
- Samyang 75mm F1.8
- Sony A7C
- Matthews C-Stand
- Backdrops by Ethan Alex
- Alan Gordon Enterprises Full Apple Box
1. Flat Light Setup
All you need for this setup is to open your garage, front door, or window! I like using the garage because the light source is massive compared to the other doors of your house and you have an automatic fill light coming from the concrete. The key here is to control the light by moving the subject in and out of the light. When Chelsea moves too far back into the shadows, the concrete creates uplighting that is unflattering and unnatural, but when she’s right in-between a shadowed area and the bright spot, she gets a balance between the fill light and the flat light coming through the garage door opening.
What you’ll notice is that the background is a bit too busy so we fix that by switching our lens to something a bit more suitable for portraiture like the 75mm and add a small headshot backdrop. You can also just use a cloth or a big sheet that you have at home. Flat light is the perfect setup for when you are starting off with headshots because it’s a safe choice and will always yield flattering images.
2. Directional Light Setup
Next, let’s talk about directional light. Using the same space in the garage you can shift your subject so the dominant light is hitting the subject from an angle. What I noticed immediately is that we are getting a massive amount of fill light from the ground so I used a black sheet to cover the concrete that was bouncing onto Chelsea’s face. From there, same as our first setup, we grab a backdrop or sheet and create a studio setup right in our garage. For this shot, I decided I needed something a bit bigger to fill the space while I use the 45mm lens which is why I opted for this backdrop by Ethan Alex. From there I had Chelsea bring her chin to the light to get a perfect Rembrandt lighting pattern and shot away.
3. Light Patterns
This next one is possible in any spot of your house but I still used my garage as the backdrop. You’ll need a phone flashlight or any video light that you have and two small boxes (I know you have plenty of Amazon package boxes laying around your house). The idea for this is to create a and interesting light pattern using your cell phone flashlight. I had the light shine through the boxes to create a small sliver of light shining on Chelsea. You can then add refractory objects in front of the flashlight to create unique patterns.
4. Natural Light Setup
Likely one of the easiest setups you can do at home is to use natural light wherever you can find it. Natural light flowing through a home can either be flat if you have your subject facing the light or directional. For this example, I grabbed a chair in my dining room and used the natural light coming from the windows. Since I am on the 35mm and my frame is a bit wider I decided to include the window behind Chelsea as part of the composition of the photograph.
5. Find a Plant
If you don’t have a backyard, this can work at a local park or even a shopping complex. All you’re going to need is a plant to help create the foreground in the shot. Adding this element gives the image more depth and also some color. Here are all the final images using the 5 lighting setups we discussed:
Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with how these lenses performed and I never felt as though I was missing out on a certain focal length in order to execute on my vision. Having all three in my arsenal made it easy to swap lenses in relation to the amount of space I was working with in the confines of my own home and they are so lightweight and compact that they would even make for a great lens kit on the go.