Learn Studio Lighting by Doing It

by | Feb 12, 2019

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

One question that I’m often asked is where did I learn my studio lighting techniques? If you haven’t figured it out yet by the title of this blog post, I’ll repeat it— I strongly believe that the best way to learn studio lighting is by doing it.

That is not to sell short the various convention and program speakers who present their studio lighting techniques to rapt audiences. I think these kinds of presentations can really be valuable at two points in your lighting learning curve:

  • They are especially useful in the beginning of your learning process, although truth be told it’s a never-ending process. Heck, even I offer 1-on-1 workshops to help you get started in studio lighting.
  • It’s also helpful on the other end, when you can continue to refine the techniques you’ve actually been practicing; in between, it’s learning by doing. The best way to get to Carnegie Hall, as the story goes is practice, practice and practice some more.

How I made the above image : Camera was a Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Lumix G VARIO 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (at 45mm.)  Lighting was a Paul C Buff DigiBee DB800 with Plume Ltd Wafer softbox and an Alien Bee B800 used for fill. Backdrop is a Savage 5 x 7-foot Infinity grey vinyl background. Exposure was 1/125 sec at f/6.3 and ISO 200.

Practicing portrait lighting isn’t easy because in addition to a camera and lightning equipment, you’ll need a subject to practice with. For years Mary was my subject but her current work travel schedule does not always permit her helping out. These days finding new models have been a challenge and I can’t afford to pay a model for practice sessions because there’s no budget for it. I do give each model a CD of every image we make to take home with her.

Recently I’ve had several companies offer to lend me equipment but I was unable to find a model within their loan period time to shoot their gear and share the results with you on this blog. So I’m asking readers in Colorado if they could refer any models, potential models or just people who like to give it a try and who might want to be photographed for this blog. You can find details here on my website.

If you would like to learn how to shoot better portraits and would like some hands-on training, please check out my 2019 1-on-1 workshops.



The original title of my book Posing for Portrait and Glamour Photography was The ABC’s of Portrait Posing. On this blog there are lots of posts about posing. Use the Search box on the upper right-hand corner and type “posing” to find appropriate posts. If you want something more lasting, take a look at my book that’s available from Amazon for $18.79 as I write this, Kindle version is $17.85 for those who prefer a digital format.