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Tips & Tricks

Using Strip Softboxes To Light A Dynamic Portrait | Andrea Belluso

By Chris Nachtwey on November 26th 2014

Lighting portraits is indeed an art that almost every photographer needs to master. It can be with natural light or strobes, but no matter your choice of light, lighting your subject is just one piece of a well crafted portrait. A lot of times, I see portraits where the subject is perfectly lit, but the background elements are not well lit, if lit at all. Trust me when I say I’m guilty of this as well. While I love one light portraits, there is something to be said for taking the time to light the other elements in the frame. I believe to take your portraits to the next level, you need to know how to light the whole scene, not just your main subject.


In the Profoto sponsored video below, Andrea Belluso shows you how he lights not only his subject, but an aircraft correctly in one frame with strip softboxes to create a dynamic portrait. Hold on until near the end of the video where Andrea really breaks down his thoughts on the final image and the lighting.

Lighting Set Up


Final Image



I loved this video because it really hammers home my thoughts that you need to think about lighting the whole frame. In fact, Andrea states he is creating two different portraits, but ultimately, they are in the same frame: the plane and his subject. His use of two strip soft boxes work perfectly in lighting, shaping, and defining the plane in the background and I love the use of a third strip softbox to light the portrait of the pilot. Due to the shape of the plane, you almost have to use a strip softbox due the long lines on the plane. All in all, I think it’s a great portrait and great example of taking the time to light the whole scene correctly to take your portrait work the next level.

Via: Profoto 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. Basit Zargar

    Nice !!

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  2. Fernando Lachica

    Lighting really is an art that I could learn more.

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  3. Stan Rogers

    Throwing more light (or ever-softer light) at the problem has always been the wrong way to create impact. It’s foolproof, but there’s a lot more to art than merely avoiding mistakes. To mercilessly paraphrase Antoine de St-Exupery’s quote about design: A photographer knows (s)he has achieved perfection not when there is no light left to add, but when there is no light left to take away.

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  4. Kevin Sutton

    I really like Andrea’s style on his portraits. It also helps I am an aviation nut. This is what I have been trying to get some local pilots to do but no takers. Anyway, I really like the use of the grid on the softbox as well as the overall use of long strip size. The highlights accentuate the length of the plane IMO.

    I also like the other in his series (which I believe as also posted on slr lounge)

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  5. Brandon Dewey

    Great photo

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