I am always pleased when I know that someone has actually read my articles.
Twice this past week I was visited by different aspiring photographers, that had read my last article on using lights and stopped by to ask advice on setting up home portrait studios.
For them and others that missed my past article on setting up a home studio, here it is again:
In each instance the photographers were quite troubled by the kind of lighting equipment other photographers were advising them to purchase and how much it was going to cost to get large and expensive studio lights.
They complained that they would have to wait till they had the money before a home studio lighting situation could be set up. I believe they were paying attention to those that included expensive manufacturer’s names for their studio type lighting setups.
One might be able to locate used studio lights with a bit of searching online. However, there will be shipping costs, plus there is a chance that they will arrive not working.
There usually isn’t lot of quality studio lights locally, and to confuse new photographers more there will be lots of those cheap, inadequate, constant light kits that were purchased by other unsuspecting beginners for sale.
My opinion is they don’t really need to go to the bank just yet, and would be better starting out with the smaller speedlight type flashes.
With the money they save by not purchasing those big studio type lights they could buy a couple inexpensive light stands, umbrellas and maybe even a softbox and backdrop.
Most small home photography studios are in the basement with equipment stored to the side until the photographer quickly sets up for a portrait session.
And if the room is less than twelve feet high, thirty feet long and only used for children, small groups or single person portraits, those big powerful and expensive studio lights may be overkill, and a real hassle when one wants to soften the background by shooting a wide aperture because there is just too much light power for small spaces.
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”.
My portrait kit is four older hotshoe type flashes, each with it’s own wireless receiver and two stands. I can choose a shoot-through umbrella, a reflector umbrella, or once in a while a softbox, and might include a reflector. It’s an inexpensive and easily stored “portrait kit” that I would recommend for most first-time, home studio photographers.
Wireless senders and receivers come in all sorts of inexpensive incarnations, and it’s 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.
Even if there were a wad of cash burning a hole it your pocket, my advice would be to proceed slowly, and learn how use light to best photograph a person first.
I have been using multiple flashes off-camera since the 1970s. I prefer inexpensive used units that I can cheaply replace if they get knocked over or I wear them out.
Hotshoe type speedlights off-camera will be perfect for that educational process, and when they are no longer a good fit with one’s creative growth, the choices as to the next step in lighting equipment will be educated decisions.