Types of Home Studio Lighting

home studio lighting

Lighting options will depend on what kind of photography you plan on shooting in your home studio; portraiture often calls for specific types of illumination while food or product photos require different styles of illumination.

Continuous studio lights provide continuous illumination unlike flashlights and strobes, coming in all manner of styles from tungsten to LED and some that can even be modified with umbrella light modifiers.

Strobe Lighting System

Strobe lighting is the go-to method for studio photography or videography. It allows more control of shadows and highlights, is easy to use once you understand its fundamentals, and allows more elaborate effects like feathered lighting or soft glow to be created with greater ease than continuous lights.

Strobes produce bright bursts of light that are both shorter and brighter than the continuous light found on most cameras, providing greater control of lighting from far away subjects or creating dramatic effects closer to home. Strobes can also be used to illuminate close up subjects for dramatic effects.

Strobe lights offer many advantages over continuous lights: portability and versatility of use when combined with various light modifiers; making them the ideal solution for home photography studios that don’t accommodate permanent fixtures, as well as their relatively affordable cost making them accessible to many photographers.

Strobes also boast high power levels, making them easier to use at longer distances from subjects than speedlights – ideal when shooting large subjects or those needing extensive background detail. Furthermore, their guide numbers (a uniform way of measuring light intensity) surpass that of speedlights.

Strobes can also be used effectively as fill lights when combined with reflectors. This technique will create more even lighting across your subject while eliminating hard shadows caused by key lighting. When using a strobe as fill light, it is crucial to know how much light you require; using either a light meter or taking several test shots and analyzing their results may help.


Studio photographers like Annie Leibovitz and David LaChapelle make a living manipulating light to achieve specific results, using monolights (also called monoblock strobes) and various light modifiers to accomplish this task.

Monolights offer numerous advantages over older studio lights in terms of setup and portability, including being self-contained for easier setup. Furthermore, monolights often contain both the modeling light and power supply in one housing that makes setup simpler while increasing portability.

Monolights typically offer adjustable output settings that let users choose from full, half, and quarter power settings while others even go down to 1/32 power settings. Other useful features of these lights include quick recycle times and an auto dump function that prevents it from firing when its battery becomes depleted.

Make sure that the bulbs used are appropriate. Some monolights come equipped with optional halogen modeling lights while others have fluorescent options which are safer and more energy-efficient than traditional tungsten bulbs. Finally, pay close attention to how each monolight clamp attaches to a lightstand; most monolights accept all standard light stands but some require special adapters.

Prior to recently, monolights were typically powered from an outlet in the wall; however, many manufacturers now offer rechargeable battery versions that give more freedom in studio and on location shooting environments. You will surely find one to suit your needs!


Speedlights can make an invaluable addition to your home studio lighting setup. These powerful yet portable flashes can be combined with various light modifiers to soften or create different effects in their illumination, as well as having numerous controls and mounting options that ensure more stable shooting experiences. Plus they’re relatively affordable – easy to find in most camera stores!

Many photographers favor speedlights as an easy and lightweight way of photographing in complex lighting setups, making them an excellent choice for beginners. Speedlights tend to feature higher guide numbers (which measures the brightness of flash) than monolights which makes them useful when working with large or complex setups.

Speedlights are ideal for situations in which natural lighting alone is insufficient, such as photographing on an overcast day or inside an dark interior. Furthermore, speedlights can be used to flatter a subject by softening skin imperfections, as well as highlight specific parts of a model’s body.

If you plan on using speedlights as the main source of lighting for your image, you will require certain additional pieces of equipment in order to maximize their use. At minimum, this includes a light stand and some kind of modifier; flashmeter knowledge will also come in handy in setting up and adjusting their power output.

Once you have the basics covered, you can progress further with your home studio lighting setup by introducing more complex lights – for instance a ring light modifier which evenly disperses light while eliminating harsh shadows. Or try out three-point lighting setup with one light placed directly above and behind your subject with two more located either side of the camera – to add depth.


Reflectors are one of the most practical studio lighting tools you can own, and professional photographers regard them as essential items in their kit. A reflector helps diffuse natural light and soften shadows in ways artificial lighting alone cannot achieve, creating polished photos with professional results. Plus, with various effects it can help your photos appear even more professional!

Reflectors work by reflecting light back onto your subject to soften its intensity and eliminate shadows, or prevent their creation altogether. There are various types of reflectors available on the market and their selection should depend on your photography needs and preferences.

White reflectors are perfect for portrait subjects as they produce soft and neutral lighting conditions, while silver reflectors offer contrast while drawing out more details in your subject matter. Gold mirrors add warmth while translucent ones help soften preexisting natural lighting while black ones serve to keep it out entirely.

Size should also be an important consideration when choosing a reflector; smaller reflectors are easier to transport while larger ones may prove more cumbersome and difficult to use. Your subject size will ultimately dictate the appropriate reflector size – headshots and three-quarter length portraits require smaller reflective surfaces while full body shots and group photographs require larger ones.

Reflectors come in all forms, from inexpensive Styrofoam sheets and foam core to more elaborate versions with handles and diffusion materials built-in. There is even an easily transportable collapsible reflector available that folds down to just 1/3rd its open size for travel convenience.


Diffusers help soften light by dispersing it across a subject rather than directly onto it, which diffusers are commonly used for when photographing flowers close-up; their diffused light helps eliminate harsh shadows and glare and produces more appealing images overall. They’re particularly useful in close-up photography with flowers where their diffused light helps eliminate contrast between petals and their backgrounds, increasing colour saturation as well as delicacy of detail.

Create your own light diffuser using inexpensive materials found in your home such as window curtains and bedsheets, similar to using a reflector to soften lighting effects. Instead of scattering out flash or constant source light evenly onto a subject area, translucent screens or sheets act as intermediary layers between it and subject area – you could even DIY one yourself for under $5 with this easy DIY solution!

Many of the techniques for creating diffusers can be applied to all forms of lighting sources, including strobes and continuous lights. Because different lights produce heat at different levels, it is crucial that any flammable materials stay away from any sources of heat.

Size matters when it comes to softening light; typically larger subjects require several times larger diffusers to prevent harsh angles of illumination from shining through. But smaller diffusers can still provide soft lighting effects; for instance, using white downspout funnels as simple yet cheap diffusers for flash photography or using wax paper instead can produce similar results for LED-based lights – though avoid doing this method with tungsten bulbs as this may catch fire!