There are countless ways to get creative with studio portrait lighting. In this video, we’ll be putting the spotlight on our model with an incredibly simple creative lighting setup using only two off-camera flashes.

Video: Creative Lighting Setup For “Spotlight” Style Portraits

Before we jump in, be sure to give my friend and model, Kiara, a follow on Instagram. Let’s start with what we’ll need for our creative lighting setup.

  1. Camera & Portrait Lens. I’ll be using the Canon EOS R5 with the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L to get that separation from the background.
  2. 2 Off-Camera Flashes. I’ll be using two Westcott FJ400‘s.
  3. Westcott Optical Spot or any grid will work to control the light.
  4. A couple of strong C-Stands to mount the lights.

Related Reading: Studio Lighting Tips and Fundamentals for Creative Portraits

Composing the Shot

As you can see, our composition is pretty simple. The important piece to keep in mind is to give your model some distance from the background for better lighting control.

Adding in the Lights

The first step in our creative lighting setup is to drop the exposure. This will get rid of all the ambient light and make room for the flash. A setting of 1/200 sec, f/5.6, and ISO 100 will do the trick.

Next, let’s add in our first light. This will be our backlight and I placed it right behind Kiara at a downward angle.

creative lighting hairlight

It’s important to consider your model’s distance from the light. You’ll notice that the closer Kiara is to the light, the more concentrated the light is on the top of her hair. The further she is from the light, the more evenly spread out it is, creating a better outline.

creative lighting optical spot

Finally, let’s add in our key light. The Westcott Optical Spot lets us create this spotlight effect on Kiara. If you don’t have an optical spot, a tight grid on a basic reflector should achieve a similar effect, albeit with slightly less control.

creative lighting westcott optical spot

The Westcott Optical Spot also comes with “drops in filters” that cast specific patterns and shapes for even more creative lighting looks. I used a simple circular shaped drop-in filter to tighten up the spotlight effect. Then, I slightly defocused the spotlight to create softer edges.

Final Images

creative lighting portraits
Edited with VF Presets > Pure Pack

Check out some of my favorite final edits with this incredibly easy creative lighting setup.


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