More Studio LightingTechniques


William Lulow

Here is an example of a portrait completed recently. My studio is usually set up to allow for maximum flexibility with lighting. I want to be able to change the lighting a few times during a session if I feel the need for it and as the subject requires it.

My basic set up consists of five lights. One MAIN light, one FILL-IN light, two EDGE (accent) lights and a BACKGROUND light. It looks something like this:

5-Light Studio SetUp

There are shades or “go-bos” that prevent the light from the EDGE lights from hitting the camera. The BACKGROUND light can be adjusted to provide a gradient tone or simply to light the background paper itself. This setup works well for single portraits. When shooting more than one person, I usually set up two BACKGROUND lights, one on each side of the set. I can then vary the tone of the background by aiming one or both of them up or down or simply using one.

My Dynalite studio power packs only allow for up to four heads to be used, so I often use two or more packs for a setup like this. Also, since my MAIN and FILL-IN lights are bounced or aimed through diffusers, the accent lights, which are direct light, will be kept at least one-stop brighter, thus rendering the highlights they produce as white. In addition, using several power packs allows me to set lighting ratios more easily.

Here is an example of the type of light I can produce:


This image was made with my normal, five-light setup.