Studio Lighting Equipment – What You Should Know

When you decide to buy your photo studio lighting, it can be a complicated and expensive endeavor.  However, I will delineate what you need in order to accomplish proper photography lighting for your home or professional studio.  Everything necessary for all of your photo shoots … without “breaking the bank”.


When you get started, you do not need to go overboard with the lighting. Entry-level “softbox” lights or umbrella lights will suffice.  When you are looking for lighting, there are four considerations.

  • Color
  • Direction
  • Quality
  • Quantity


Below, I will explain the basics of Softbox Lighting and Umbrella lighting.


Softbox Lights – “softbox” lights are typically flexible and allow you to have control over the equipment.  They will provide a “soft” or “warm” light which is done via a diffuser panel.   All you need to do is point the light toward the subject in your photo.


Umbrella Lights – if you are brand-new to photography or outfitting your first studio, I would recommend “umbrella” lights.  They are easy to setup and very portable.  When you start looking for umbrella lights, you will see two different types.  The first is “Shoot Through Umbrella Lighting” and the second is “Reflective Umbrella Lighting”.


Shoot Through Umbrella Lights – these types of umbrella lighting are similar to softbox lights. Simply point the light in the direction of the subject, and a diffuser spreads the light.  Umbrella Lights will apportion the light over a larger area than softbox lights. Again, “shoot through umbrella lights” give you a very broad and soft lighting.  You will typically keep umbrella lighting at a close proximity to your subject.


Reflective Umbrella Lights – with Reflective Lights, you send the lighting through a reflective material which then “reflects” back towards the subject.  This gives you an advantage of reducing light loss. If you are photographing a larger area or a large group of people, you will not get enough light via a “shoot through umbrella light”.  For this, a reflective lighting technique is much more effective. Though you might want to have both types of Reflective Umbrella Lights (“board” reflector and “lamp” reflector), the board reflector type allows for some techniques such as “bounce lighting”, where you can get more realistic and natural looking photos.  Additionally, board reflection can be used outdoors to reflect sunlight back upon a subject, thus reducing shadows.


As you build your photo studio lighting, you will want to start with either a softbox light or umbrella light, or a combination of the two. Quality light kits are available for under $200.

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