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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.

How to get studio quality portraits at home on a budget @ Lighti

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.


Step 1
Setup so you model will be 3 feet from a white (ish) wall. 


Step 2:
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.


Step 3:
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.)


Step 4:
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)


Step 5:
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.


Clam shell lighting made easy @ Lightism


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.

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