Sharing a Studio Setup

I photographed a past bride back in December and we finished with a couple of shots in more of a studio setting. I wanted to share quickly how I made it work.

The studio was actually in her living room. What’s nice about a seamless backdrop is it removes all the clutter from a background and allows the viewer to focus just on the subject of the image. I used a dark grey background color. (“Thunder Grey”, as a matter of fact) It’s really the opposite of what I’m usually looking for in a photograph. I generally look to bring the environment into my images when I’m shooting, but in this case I think the simplicity really lets the subject stand out that much more.

The lighting was simple, as you can see below. I used my Elinchrom Quadra through a very large (60″) shoot-through umbrella. I like the directional light that it gives off – and the way that it creates highlight and shadow on the subject. The umbrella is just one tool I could have used, but I chose it for the quality of light it gives off. A soft box would have focused the light more on the subject, and the background would have been darker. The flash head with nothing over it (referred to as bare-bulb) would have created very hard, harsh areas of light and shadow on the subject, which would take away from the look that I was heading towards.

It’s really the simplest of lighting setups, but a very effective one for studio work. I had my subject stand where she was directly lit by the light, but far enough away from the background so that the light would fall off a bit before hitting the seamless. That lets the background get a bit darker rather than looking like it’s lit as the subject is lit.

The image above was taken at ISO 200, f/8, and 1/160 of a second.

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