Fast 4-Light Setup Produces Stunning Studio Portraits

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If you’ve booked some studio time for your next portrait session but don’t have a ton of time to actually shoot it, here’s a fast and easy 4-light set-up from Eli Infante that will come in handy. In the below video tutorial, Infante shows you his four-light studio process using the Westcott FJ400 strobe set-up.

Similar lighting from other brands will work as well and if you need further suggestions, check out our guide to the best strobe flash and LED continuous lights for studio photography. Furthermore, Infante uses the same Westcott beauty dish we recommend in our guide to the best beauty dishes of 2021.

According to Infante, arranging the lights in his portrait set-up takes less than five minutes and will produce stunning results.

“To start the key light is positioned in butterfly position, which means it’s going to be placed in front of the subject, above and angled down so that we have catch lights in the upper middle part of the eye,” he explains. “In addition to that, you’re also going to have some shadows underneath the nose as well as underneath the chin. What makes butterfly lighting great is that it looks flattering on most subjects.”

After this starting point for the key light, Infante goes on to demonstrate the three other lighting positions in the set-up. The second light is a fill light below his subject in a clam shell position to brighten the shadows under his subject’s chin. The fill light also adds an extra pair of catchlights in the eyes.

To make his image feel more three dimensional, Infante adds two lights 45 degrees behind the subject as his rim lights. The rim lights also help illuminate the colored powder that’s thrown behind his subject to add some pizazz to his shot. (Interestingly, we shared a separate story recently where a photographer used color powder on a leaping dog shot, so it seems to be a trend.)

“Whenever I’m working in the studio, remember that you always work with one light at a time,” Infante notes. “You get the exposure for one photograph and then you slowly add each light.”

Check out the video tutorial below and make sure you stick around till the end where Infante walks you through his portrait editing process in Photoshop for more tips. If you want to learn some more classic lighting techniques, click on this tutorial with five quick set-ups you can return to again and again.

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