Studio Lighting Secrets

Beginning a new series of Tuesday posts on my approach to studio lighting, even if your studio is your living room or spare bedroom…

The real secret, if there is any, of studio lighting is having the right attitude and choosing the right equipment. That gear doesn’t have to be expensive which is why in the pages that follow I’ll show you how to make you images that look like they were made in a real studio even if that “studio” is a garage.

lighting setupRichard Avedon once said, “I think all art is about control—the encounter between control and the uncontrollable.” That’s what a dedicated studio, no matter what size it may be or wherever it may be located, provides to a photographer. It’s a safe haven from the real world where, like the Outer Limits voice says, you can control the lighting, the background, and subject.

What often emerges from all that control is a style. Photographic style is not something I’m conscious about when shooting but the truth is that over time we all develop a signature way of shooting. The danger is, of course, that we keep shooting that same way or different versions of the same shot for the rest of our lives. Any style you develop must grow and change as you learn more about the art and craft of photography, especially lighting. Otherwise, what’s the point?

1/15 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 800.

1/15 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 800.

The starting point of anybody’s style can be copying a photographer’s work that we liked and since it’s almost impossible to exactly duplicate the look of someone else’s image we gradually make accommodations as far as equipment, space, and experience is concerned. As we continue to shoot and learn from experience and reading magazine articles and books like this one, we start to tweak and improve those results until what emerges is truly a personal style.

The above image is a classic Joe Farace-style studio shot that was made in my 11×15-foot home studio. The model is more often than not, placed in a three-quarter pose; she is looking directly at the camera and seldom has a “say cheese” smile. Lighting was from an all-LED light source, Image was captured using a Canon EOS 60D D90 with  EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom lens (at 61mm) and an exposure of 1/15 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 800.

Author: Joe Farace

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