Photography lighting is one of the most powerful tools a photographer can have in their arsenal. Studio lighting opens up the realm of possibility – you can create beautiful scenes from scratch to capture the perfect photo. A studio light setup comprises of various light sources, ranging from small LEDs and flashguns to large soft boxes and umbrellas. Each type of light is used for a different purpose, for example; fill lights to reduce harsh shadows or backlights to provide a glowing backdrop. When used creatively and effectively, studio lighting will elevate photography to levels only ever imagined.

Video: Studio Lighting Tips and Fundamentals for Creative Portraits

Off-camera flash can be intimidating, especially when using more than one light source. In this video, I’ll be going over some studio lighting tips for capturing creative portraits.

Whether it’s two, three, or four lights, following these studio lighting tips can help create the right light for your creative portraits. Let’s begin with today’s gear.

  1. Camera and lens of your choice. Today, I’ll be going with the Canon EOS R5 with the RF 28-70mm f/2L lens.
  2. Two off-camera lights. I’ll be using two Westcott FJ400 flashes.
  3. Light modifiers. For our creative effects, I’ll be using the Lindsay Adler Optical Spot as well as a regular Westcott Octabox.

Our model today is my wonderful friend, Jhesus. Be sure to give him a follow on Instagram!

What Not To Do

Let’s begin with what not to do when working with studio lighting.

I commonly see photographers set up one flash and begin shooting right away. I set up an FJ400 with the optical spot without any other setup and got this shot. Notice the odd hue on the wall created by the ambient room light. Let’s try cutting the room light.

When we cut the room light, we end up losing the details in the shadows outside of the spotlight. It’s missing fill light to bring back shadow details.

Studio Lighting Tip #1: Light the Shadows

Let’s start with a clear set. First, I brought in my other FJ400 with a softbox aimed at the ceiling to bounce the fill light back into the room.

Taken at 1/200 sec, f/4, ISO 400

Next, I set the exposure and flash power to where I want my shadows to be.

The fill light from the softbox creates an even effect. Compare this to using the ambient window light for the fill. The window light casts odd shadows on the wall.

Studio Lighting Tip #2: Add Your Main Light

studio lighting tips modeling light

I brought back the main light with the optical spot. Use the modeling light to aim and get the right shape. Here, you can add gobos, gels, and any additional creative lighting effect.

Studio Lighting Tip #3: Adding Additional Light Sources

This is where you would bring in additional light sources. Add them in one at a time for maximum control of each light. Make minor adjustments as necessary.

Final Images

studio lighting tips final photos

Check out some of the final images after we’ve refined our lighting.


I hope you enjoyed this article/video. Working with flash can be incredibly easy once you have the fundamentals down pat. Give these studio lighting tips a try next time and see how they can help you refine your creative portraits! For a full course on lighting with flash, check out the Flash Photography Training System on SLR Lounge Premium. There, you can also find complete training guides for Wedding Photography and the Business of Photography. You can also visit Visual Flow for intuitive Lightroom presets and retouching tools.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!