Home studio lighting for photographers

Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman

Home studio lighting equipment for photographers doesn't have to break the bank.

Home studio lighting equipment for photographers doesn't have to break the bank.

I have written about using off-camera flash several times. Nevertheless, what with the conversations I had with two separate, aspiring portrait photographers this past week asking my recommendations for setting up a home portrait studio, I have decided to revisit those conversations.

In each instance they were troubled by the kinds of lighting equipment other photographers were advising them to purchase.   Both were upset at how much it was going to cost to get large and expensive studio lights, and complained that they would have to wait until they had the money before a home studio lighting situation could be set up.

I believe that the names of expensive equipment manufacturers were among the equipment suggested for their studio type lighting setups.  Both of them had stopped by my shop for used equipment wondering if I could find what they wanted.

With serious searching they might be able to find used studio lights listed on craigslist, or similar, but that will include additional shipping costs.  Further, they won’t have experience with the many brands of equipment available, and are taking a chance that the units will arrive in working condition.  And, to confuse them even more they will be offered lots of those cheap, and inadequate, constant light kits that were purchased by other unsuspecting beginners.

I knew they were new to portraiture and just want to learn about lighting. My opinion is they don’t really need to go to the bank just yet, and would be better off starting out with smaller, speedlight type flashes.

With the money saved by not purchasing the big, studio type lights they can buy a couple of inexpensive light stands, umbrellas, and maybe even a soft-box, and a backdrop.

Photographers intent on setting up small home studios for portraits and small groups don’t need to go to the expense of the brawny, studio type lights. They can easily, and without much initial cost, set up a studio with what I personally use, and call my “portrait kit”.

I use older hotshoe flashes for my portrait kit, each with it’s own wireless receiver and stand. I can choose a shoot-through umbrella, a reflector umbrella, or a softbox, and much of the time I include a reflector.  It is an inexpensive and easily stored “portrait kit” that I would recommend for home studio photographers.

Wireless sender/receivers come in all sorts of inexpensive incarnations, and it is the same with lightstands and flash-to-umbrella mounts. All of this is much less expensive, and a lot easier to store and/or move around than the big studio-type flash units.

I have been using multiple flashes off-camera since the 1980s, and I always choose inexpensive, used units that I can cheaply replace if they get knocked over, or if I wear them out.

Hotshoe type, off-camera speedlights are perfect for the educational process of learning to use flash effectively, and when they are no longer a good fit for one’s creative growth, the choices as to the next step in lighting equipment will be educated decisions instead of emotional.

These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or emcam@telus.net. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops.

I sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment. And if you want an experienced photographer please call me at 250-371-3069.