New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

Tips & Tricks

Using Grids to Create Dramatic Portrait Lighting With Gavin Hoey

By Chris Nachtwey on September 8th 2014

One light modifier that I personally tend to forget about are grids. Grids are great for not only focusing your light source, but also creating mood and texture in your portraiture. In the Adorama sponsored video below, Gavin Hoey shows us how to use grids to light a portrait in his small home studio space.





First, Gavin uses a small light with a grid directly above his subject to create an edgy looking spotlight on his subject. Next to fill in the shadows and light his subject’s face more, he uses a small beauty dish with a grid camera right of his subject. As you can see in the images below, the grids make a big difference in controlling the spill of light on Gavin’s subject.

Lighting Set Up


Image Without Grids

The light is spilling all over Gavin’s subject and is overexposing the whole image.


Image With Grids

The light is controlled and not overexposing Gavin’s subject at all. The final image looks very clean, edgy, and almost like it was shot out in the field vs. in Gavin’s small home studio.



Gavin does a great job showing us the power of using grids. Not only do they help add mood and texture to your images, but they can really help you control the spill of your lights. The best thing is that grids are not all the expensive and can be easily transported from your studio out into the field.

Via: Adorama’s Youtube Page

Images captured via screen grab.

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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Guillermo Ili Sevilla

    Hi i was just wondering if you turn your room light off to have the light effect from the grid to work?

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  2. Mark Iuzzolino

    Grids are definitely on my list. Also interested in the Flashpoint StreakLight. Anyone have experience with them?


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  3. Dre Rolle

    Tried it out last night on my friends setup. Saw a huge change in the result and came up with some pretty interesting setups. Thanks a lot.

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  4. Rafael Steffen

    Grids are amazing. They can add really interesting results to some portraits.

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  5. John Cavan

    That’s a handy reminder that I don’t take my grids out nearly enough.

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  6. Chuck Eggen

    Just bought the Magmod Kit for my speed light. It arrived today and then this article pops up. Guess I’ll have to try it out now.

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