How to get studio quality portraits at home on a budget.
If you want studio quality portraits on a budget or just want to take you flash / strobist photography to the next level, I’ll show you a cheap (under £44) and simple setup which packs a punch every time and you can take anywhere.
What you will need:
I’m assuming you have some of this kit already, but here’s the list with a few budget bits that I used for this shot:
1) A DSLR or compact camera with a flash hot shoe.
2) Any simple flashgun,
I used a cheap Yongnuo YN-460* from EBay costing £29.99
3) A sync cable £1.89 from eBay or,
I used a Yongnuo RF602* wireless flash trigger from EBay cost £18.
4) An white shoot through umbrella with bracket from EBay cost £9.99 upwards, I used one of these.
5) Someone to hold your umbrella or,
I used a cheap eBay light stand (Konig branded) £17.99
6) A homemade tin foil reflector costing £2.00 (see video) or,
30” silver reflector on eBay from £5.99 (I used a LastoLite one at £17.85)
So, total cost £44 on a tight budget or for all the kit including flashgun, wireless triggers, umbrella, lighting stand an amazing £82!
* These items are great starter gear and I even use them commercially for simple tasks. Nobody knows, as I put black electrical tape over the branding on all my kit anyway.
How to use them – Clam shell lighting made easy:
The flashgun will throw out soft light from above the model and the reflector will bounce it back up and act like a second light.
This gives your pictures a sophisticated studio look with the minimal of effort, cost and fuss.
Setup so you model will be 3 feet from a white (ish) wall.
If you have a zoom set it to 70 – 100 mm, the lens will dictate where your camera will be positioned and working on a table makes this setup much easier as you will need to shoot in-between the umbrella and the reflector as above.
Setup your umbrella directly above the camera pointing down at your model at around 45 degrees.
I set mine as high as it would go and it rubbed the ceiling.
(If you’re using wireless triggers, one goes on the flash and the other on the camera.)
Your reflector will need to be at 45 degrees, but play with this for the desired effect.
You can use assistant or get the model to hold it or I find a table works well (unless they have boxing gloves on of course)
Turn on your Flashlights to manual and ¼ power, position your model and shoot.
I shoot with a zoom set to 70mm in aperture priority at f5.6 or below, with auto white balance and auto Iso…simple really.
If your camera is selecting a shutter speed less than 1/100th of a second, then turn up the power on the flash gun or you may get blurred pictures.If you enjoyed this and other articles….subscribe below or like Lightism on Facebook to keep up to date.