Below are some lighting principles I abide by when carrying out photography in my studio and will also refer to a selection of props I can’t go without. Don’t forget, the techniques you adopt should vary according to the type of your shoot, the client and style you’re aiming for.Continuous or flash?Firstly you need to decide which type of lighting source is best suited to your shoot’s purpose.
The continuous option is relatively inexpensive and great for those starting out in studio photography. As the name suggests, it is a continuous source of light which will help find where the shadows and highlights will be throughout the shoot, and is a good option for still life photography. However, do bear in mind that this type of equipment emits a lot of heat, which isn’t ideal if you’re shooting portrait or fashion. Flash equipment puts more control in the photographer’s hands, allowing you to adjust your shots to create the desired style.Photographing newborns and childrenAs mentioned earlier, continuous lighting can be a problem if you’re working with people – the constant heat from the equipment is likely to irritate your subjects. If not, use soft continuous lighting.With older children I recommend using a combination of flash and continuous. Attach a softbox in front of the child to make their face even rounder and the catch lights in their eyes stand out. To completely eliminate harsh shadows and create even lighting I recommend fixing a large softbox – a 32”x40” usually works well.

This simple but effective setup results in really vibrant colors and suits the feel of this type of shoot.Portrait photographyPortrait shoots require an altogether different approach. Quite often you will work with clients who are out of their comfort zone when in a photography studio.
So it’s up to you to manipulate lighting levels so that the client not only feels comfortable, but is amazed with the end results.
Taking pregnancy photography as an example, use soft, flattering lighting to emphasize the curve of the client’s bump whilst minimizing areas that might want a little less attention after 9 months of pregnancy.A distinct style of shot which is especially popular in portrait is the silhouette photo. To create this look, place strong lighting directly behind the person and bring in a soft second light from the front if you want to bring their face out of darkness.Tips for fashion shotsHere you can get really creative. Experimenting with the intensity and positioning of your lights will yield surprisingly varied results. For a more flattering look, angle the lights at 45 degrees from the front if the client is not too full in the face.
The props you need really depend on the type of photography you shoot, but I do think every photographer should have 3 studio staples, which I’ll explain below.BackdropsOutdoor photo shoots can present photographers with some amazing backgrounds.
However, in a studio you can truly personalize the look and feel of your photos thanks to having a selection of backdrops handy.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing a backdrop – it all comes down to personal preference. I recommend browsing Pinterest for inspiration – a lot of the ideas you’ll find there can be recreated fairly cheaply. A big luxurious chair is also a perfect prop for any age client, even if it’s just to pull up to a window and to sit them in beautiful natural light.
If traditional family portraiture is your thing, then a grand sofa with personality is a must.Children’s propsWhen children are involved in a photo shoot, keeping them occupied can be a task in itself. Thankfully there is no shortage of props you can use for the job – these props not only add to the personality of the photos but they have the added benefit of keeping the little ones entertained. Consider dolls or costume jewelry for girls, and sports accessories or teddy bears for the boys.

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