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Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 37 of 39

Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 37 of 39

Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Lesson Info

Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

And I'm going to recruit my lovely audience again, okay? And we're going to switch our modifiers so just summarize what we want for modifier because they want a larger modifier so that we can back it up and it will still be a large light source that khun evenly like the group and ideally, we add some sort of deficiency. I will start off with let's do the umbrella with diffusion if we can uh it does not particularly matter, probably the silver is probably easier to work with. He asked me if I wanted the shoot through umbrella or the silver umbrella and there's not really, there is a difference, but I don't really have a preference for this. The shoot through for me is a little harder to work around it's a little excited put the reflective behind me and I feel like the shoot through gets in the way shoot there would be softer light is a little less control, though it kicks the late a little bit further everywhere, which might be good, but when you had the diffusion on this, controls the ...

light a little bit more, someone turn off these lights and grab my group and I'll go back through the rules of lighting a group bring this back tio great way lower told which made this nation great, ok, wonderful group see if I center you this time alright shifted like a half foot left okay good good display my left sorry you know okay, great and you're good now and now everyone looked like you actually know each other who those chairs closer will you know each other now and have your friends right? Yeah, well, I thought some people whose faces didn't smile he was not think that your friend he was like very serious he's like all right, so well they're setting this up with my little posing could you put your hand on her shoulder? We're pretending this is a family portrait. Okay, could you put your hand on her shoulder on this side? Yes, this is is there like a highlight? Okay, great! And then I'm going to have you lean in so I'm leaning towards him a little bit any time that there's depth, it makes group photos more difficult, so if I can avoid it, I don't wanna have a group sitting than two feet behind them another set of people and then three feet four feet behind them another set so I can get them closer on the same plane than lighting is easier to work with. This also is something you want to watch out for if you're shooting groups on stairs a church because if you are working and height and you have them a lot further back on the stairs, it might actually affect the lighting. All right, so this is going to be with just one light and what you want to keep in mind is you don't want the light really, really close because these people will be very bright and the people on the other side will be darker, so you want to back it up a little bit and you could shoot flat on, but that will create slightly more problems with glasses for reflections, so I know I want a raise the light up a little bit, so I have a little bit of shape on the face. I do want them to pump up the back of their glasses to the glasses are angled down slightly that helps me out and then the people with glasses I have them facing this way and I'm going to move the light on the left hand side because then when it does broad lights, them changes the angles of the light to the glasses, so it gives me less reflection. So I'm going toe in eagle that and if you move the light really far off to the side, you'll want to add a white reflector, but we may not need that in this instance, alright hitting the expensive thing it okay, good, all right when you give me a test in the little perfect ok and so probably if I if I had him meter across sure they would be a little bit darker but if I brought this late really close it would be a problem I have to back up a little bit to give me some flexibility to have even lighting so let me set this aito and I'm going to back up and zoom in to try to compress them against the background ah little bit more this is a lovely family photo cute excellent poli look ahead isn't so this is going to I said proposing the side of the face that she prefers is most definitely her right hand side over there so what she keeps doing as she keeps turning her head back which turns it towards the light so I just have to keep ahead neutral but I could if we had more time switch your overs that she's more comfortable but let's keep it a little more well that's why? I have a tiny bit of highlight but remember the part on the side of the face that they prefer in general ok one more all those good from the hand back up like a good families good perfect okay, so that is decent family portrait like if you had one light especially if you want to like them on a white background but let's take a look if I bump it up to two lights and you guys won't be able to see this spot allah I'll read it out to us you can see what's on the kino okay so you can see over they're perfect if there was a lot of shadow on this side like I brought this late way over I would need to add a little bit of white reflection reflector so the next thing I do large saw fox this is a large soft box fundamentally is it actually soft bucks no large umbrella with the fusion but it acts very similar so we're going to leave that up and then what I can do is I could start to bring this further to the side to create more shape on your face maybe on super bored by that last lighting setup I would probably shoe on a slightly darker background as well, but it looked okay had that white high key so what we're going to do is I'm going to bring this off to the side a little bit more for a little bit more drama but there might be too much shadow on this side on the right hand side so we'll add some reflection and I'm going to try not to hit this again just so there's just no way went over here I got it maybe turned towards you well ok, so let me watch the back I almost knock this off this thiss tv was on a stand behind me and I almost knocked it off once it would've been really bad ok, harry got let me test this is just the left hand light the main soft box there's no light on the right hand side anymore are yet let me get my family portrait okay, so the light looks good, but if you look at the photograph, some of the shadow areas on the right hand side particularly if you look in the right bottom right, starts to get dark so maybe I want that to be even doubt or concern out for one more something else let me shoot whiter step way back here he'll be able to see it this way there's a shadow catherine the background we talked about how to remove shadows, but you're kind of going to have to work with this here ideally and shooting a darker background so you wouldn't see it as much and some of the things that sticks shadows are softer light sources we have a soft light source another thing would be to bring it closer to you. Well, I can't bring it to much closer because then the group will be unevenly let so has that going on I could raise the late up a little bit and that would be one solution the downside is if I raise that light up that maybe the people in the bottom sitting over here might be a little bit darker so I might raise it up and pointed down if I'm trying to get rid of some of those shadows on the background but I also feel light will help me win a pop in a little bit of light and fill in some of those shadows kind of flatten things out in the thing I want to be careful with is taking a look at any reflections that are created in the glasses so take a look here perfect all right so I that might have been pretty good I don't see really any reflection to see very minimal if any but what it did is it pop some light into the darker shadow areas especially say there was a kid sitting over here no that was just a little bit darker and the ground pops it in fills in the shadows and also fills in some of the shadows in the background you can take a picture I mean can't you ok oh so good but can I like neil next year okay one more water okay good a group family fortune perfect all right so let's pump onto the next one please pop up on kino so the next thing you can do this this would be more with a dark background and I don't really I don't think that would have set up many of the flats so should we do yeah so let's just imagine on this one because we're timessake what we would do if this were a dark background and you can you can describe how you want it you do it it's only think this tripoli if this were a black background what would happen is you have dark hair for example and you're wearing a dark shirt on the right and they would blend into the background if this were a black background so what john would dio is he could get a soft box right there and that becomes a hair like that sweeps over everybody without it sweeps over everybody without hitting it any light on the face is not going to hit incorrectly but just give kind of a halo around the hair you would need a boom arm for example thiss gets a little bit more complicated but if you shoot a lot of groups this would be a leading said if you'd want to know I always have people with dark hair on dark background say I can't see my hair I heard that endless so you would need to know howto work ah hair lights that's perfect great thank you and he would want sandbags and counterweights and things like that so it's not to crash on your group okay the other one would be if you go for higher key in this case you take this large soft box and put two lights on the background on and just use this as you did before but what you want to be careful of in this particular instance is when your light in the background some people will be closer to those sidelights so if you don't mind I'll try this and show you what you'd have to watch out for you kind of worried about spill on those subjects so let me I want to move this this way for a sec perfect all right, so let's say you have a small space and I'm trying to like this white the person on that's closest to these room lights is probably going to get a little bit of a spill on them and so what you might have to do is you might have to use your v flats or some kind of phone court to block it off and I want to be able to point it feathered across the background so that it's nice and even but when I do that it starts to point on his side of the face and you can see that on the left hand side of his face so you could use a barn door to try to help lock that light off when it would probably be a better idea if you had to be flat you could use to try that but you're definitely working in close quarters here to get high a portrait so somewhere right around there should be good and that would be true for both sides, and I'm watching when I close the barn door that I'm not blocking this light off of the background but and said just off of my subject and still hitting him a bit so with the best case scenario would be is the further you can move them away from that background, it puts them in a different lighting zone you like the background on one's own like the four grown on different zone and they're not interacting you can of course try to hold the, uh, black flat there or I'm just going to change the angle a bit, so we'll see how this works got the lead after the side again, we're going to use a little bit of phil light, a little bit of phil card let's give this a try. I have no idea what the power of my background is, so that may have to be adjusted. Okay, you guys are looking cute little more get the background looks good, nobody's following too much to shadow and no reflections from glasses. So I think that achieves a lot of the problems that people run into will address seeing the sides of the background here, and I noticed there aren't really any shadows the only shadow I see is maybe the back right hand side and I could fix that by turning the light power turning a light down pointed downward a little bit for the background here they fill it up because it's a large group if they actually were a family I'd make them squish closer together but they are so we'll make you do it too much but some of the things that would help me as well is if I could back up a little bit further if I stood here I'm at the very edge you probably don't want to get me and but very very edge of the stage here I could get them in the white background fully no problem although I'm wiggling so I got a little bit on the left but in other words they all fit to trying to keep those things in mind and if it pulled them way way out it would make the problem worse so in this case it actually would be a good scenario. Have them closer to the background. Okay, let me see if you guys have questions but you have to go that way apparently so they go to you first. Okay, you guys, you're good. Thank you. Could you just remind us how far these from the back row of folks for these lights you say like two and a half feet three feet three feet of rain from this the were not from the background but from the light is light so I lied to them about two and a half feet. Yeah, they're very, very close to those lights. In a perfect scenario, I'd have a massive space with twelve foot seamless. They have the tools that seamless, and if I had to shoot a lot of groups like that, maybe that would be something that I would invest in, or if you have one large white wall and you can put down, uh, white fabric on the ground. That might be another solution if you're lighting groups all in white. Okay, all right. And one more question from a studios in the uk in the group shot. Does it help if you put the people with the darkest close closest to the light source? Yes, absolutely there's more considerations, like if you put someone with black close close to the light source, but they have blond hair that way you have more considerations and that, but definitely if there's somebody wearing white, you wouldn't want them right next to a light. You can kind of hide the mistakes you're working around by keeping that in mind.

Class Description


  • Expertly light a portrait using just one light and one modifier
  • Work with more complex two and three light set-ups
  • Create light for portraits, beauty, or drama
  • Light a group photograph
  • Learn to troubleshoot the most common lighting questions
  • Confidently purchase the right lighting equipment for your work


Intimidated by studio lights? In Studio Lighting 101, fashion photographer Lindsay Adler deciphers the complexities of studio light, breaking it down into simple concepts for beginners. In this class, you'll learn everything from basic lighting terminology to creating multiple light set-ups. Start with the basics like how to adjust your digital camera settings for studio strobes and layer in the details you'll need to light your first photo studio portrait.

Photographers on a budget will learn how to light a portrait using a single light, modifier, and photography light stand. Then, learn to work with two and three light kits to create drama, background separation, and more. You'll see dozens of studio lighting set-ups, from start-to-finish, behind the scenes in this live recorded class. Develop the skills to troubleshoot several common photography studio lighting problems, like lighting large groups and correcting reflections on glasses.

By the end of this class, you'll know how to buy your first studio lighting kit and how to shoot that first in-studio portrait. This class is ideal both for beginning photographers that don't understand much beyond the exposure triangle and experienced natural light photographers ready to try a studio setting.


  • Beginners with a grasp of the exposure triangle
  • Intermediate and advanced natural light photographers new to studio lighting


Fashion photographer Lindsay Adler is one of the most well-known in her field, noted for her style, posing and mastery of the studio lighting system. Along with working as a photographer, she's also a respected educator, a Canon Explorer of Light, and author of three instructional photography books. Her work has appeared in publications such as Marie Claire, Elle, InStyle, Noise, Essence, Zink Magazine, Rangefinder, Professional Photographer and dozens more. Lindsay is a sought after speaker for her experience and straightforward, easy-to-follow teaching style.


  1. Studio Essentials: Shutter Speed

    In the first lesson, gain an overview of the course. Dispel some of the most common lighting myths. Learn how camera settings change when working with studio lighting instead of natural lighting. Figure out your sync speed limitations and how shutter speed affects the ambient (or existing) light.

  2. Studio Essentials: Flash Exposure

    While shutter speed won't change the look of your studio light, aperture and ISO will affect the exposure, or the amount of light, from the flash. Learn how aperture affects the way that burst of light from your strobe or speedlight looks. Then, factor in ISO and the strobe output, or how much light the strobe lighting creates. Work with a light meter to take out some of that guesswork.

  3. Studio Essentials: White Balance

    Where should you set the white balance when working with studio lighting? In this lesson, learn where to set the white balance on the camera, and why those settings are different for different types of light and even different brands. Work with additional factors that can also affect color temperature.

  4. Light Principles: Inverse Square Law

    Dive into the three things that affect the look of the light. Consider factors like the intensity of the light, lighting ratios, and the quality of the light. Take the complexities out of the Inverse Square Law and learn how bringing the light closer or farther away makes a difference in the image.

  5. Lighting Patterns

    Learn the lighting lingo to establish a basic foundation in light -- and the ability to learn and talk about light. Pick up terms like broad light, short light, flat light, highlights, and shadows. Then, dive into common lighting patterns like paramount, loop, Rembrandt, and split.

  6. Shoot: Demo Lighting Patterns

    Watch the lighting patterns from the previous lesson in action. Learn how to set up each type of pattern. Then, add variety to the lighting set-ups through simple changes, such as understanding how height affects dimension.

  7. Quality of Light and Modifiers

    Control the quality of light from hard to soft adding modifiers to your lighting kit. Learn why size and distance matters for modifiers. Look at the different types of lighting accessories available and see how several types of modifiers affect the light.

  8. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid

    See those lighting accessories in action. In this live shoot, see how adjusting the different available diffusers and grids change the look of the image. Determine how to pick a modifier that matches the look you want.

  9. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Umbrellas

    Umbrellas are a large, inexpensive, and easy-to-use light modifier. Work with the different types of collapsible umbrellas, including silver, white and shoot through. Discover how to place the umbrella and work with umbrellas in a portrait shoot.

  10. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Softboxes

    Softboxes are similar to umbrellas in that they create soft light, but they can be a bit easier to control. See the pros and cons of different shapes and sizes. In the live shoot, learn how to control the light spill by feathering a softbox.

  11. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Extra Stuff

    Work with strip boxes, barn doors, grids, and snoots -- modifiers that are often used for rim light, backlight or hair lights. Explore how each type works, then see the different options in action. Learn about Lindsay's favorite modifier, the beauty dish.

  12. 10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2

    Launch into ten different lighting setups that you can achieve with just one light -- this lesson covers the first two. Create paramount and loop lighting with a softbox in this live shoot using a single light, a light stand, a boom arm, and an octabox.

  13. 10 One Light Set-ups: 3 to 5

    Moving through the ten lighting set-ups with a single light, work with a Paramount octabox and two fill cards for a lighting setup called the beauty box. Create a Rembrandt light with an octabox and watch the behind-the-scenes fine-tuning using a modeling light, or continuous lighting, to see how small adjustments affect the light. Then, add a silver reflector to the Rembrandt for another option.

  14. 10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10

    Continue building variety with a single light using a Rembrandt set-up with a white reflector. Create a short light loop with an octabox, a short light Rembrandt with a reflector, an octabox rim light, and an octabox behind.

  15. One Light Set-ups: Pop Quiz

    Review what the class has done so far. Look over the ten images from the one-light set-ups, recap the qualities of that light and how it was created.

  1. FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 1

    Which is better, strobe light kits or a continuous lighting kit likes the ones often used with video cameras? Discuss the pros and cons of each type to help determine what type of lighting gear works best for you. Dive into the most frequently asked questions about buying photography lighting, like what wattage to look for.

  2. FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 2

    This class allows you to shoot multiple set-ups with a single light -- but ideally, how many lights should you have in your light kit? Continue working with purchasing questions on lighting in this lesson, including name brands, DIY alternatives, and the difference between the pricey strobes and the less expensive strobes.

  3. FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 3

    If you can only afford one modifier, which one should you start with? Finish the round of purchasing questions in this lesson, including questions posed by students like you. Learn how strobes differ from flash heads or speedlights, and why strobes are often better for a studio space than an off camera flash.

  4. 10 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 and 2

    Move from simple single light set-ups to lighting with two light sources. Start with a basic portrait with a softbox loop and a stripbox hair or rim light. Then, learn to shoot a basic clamshell with a softbox, a reflector and a strip box for added highlight.

  5. 10 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 6

    Continuing the two-light set-ups, move into more dramatic lighting with a Rembrandt using a softbox key light and a strip box rim light. Next, tackle a Rembrandt portrait lightened with a fill card and a clamshell with a softbox and stripbox.

  6. 10 Two Light Set-Ups: 7 to 10

    Go behind the scenes for a short light Rembrandt with a second light behind the subject 45-degrees with a barn door modifier. Create a "checkerboard" style light using a Rembrandt key light and a grid on the background. Finally, create a dramatic Rembrandt with a silver dish and stripbox or barndoors.

  7. 5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2

    Two light set-ups aren't limited to just ten possibilities. In the second set of two-light scenarios, Lindsay walks through some less common photographic lighting techniques. Start with using two rim lights, then jump into a sideways clamshell.

  8. 5 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5

    Create a wrap around beauty light with a softbox behind, a beauty dish in the front and a silver reflector. Or, build a more dramatic wrap-around light without a reflector. Learn how to shoot with a dramatic grid light and a barn door modified light towards the back.

  9. 5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2

    A three light kit will open up even more possibilities. In this lesson, Lindsay discusses why you may want three lights, then jumps into the first of five different basic three light set-ups. Start with a high key portrait, followed by a high key clamshell.

  10. 5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5

    Learn to light groups using a three light set-up. Anticipate the likely problems with lighting groups before they happen and watch a live demonstration of a group lighting set-up. Then, create a three-point light set up with a softbox and two stripboxes, then a checkerboard with a key, rim, and background light.

  11. 5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3

    Move into the more advanced three light set-ups in this lesson. Start with a Rembrandt with a gridded beauty dish and two rim lights with barn doors. Then work with film noir studio lighting and a high key drama shot.

  12. 5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5

    Learn to use your lights to create a high key spill light. Finally, create a high key clamshell lighting in the final intermediate three-light set-up.

  13. 10 Common Lighting Mistakes

    Now that you know how to light, learn how NOT to light. Work with some common lighting mistakes that beginners make, and learn how to fix each one.

  1. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1

    In the final day of the class, work through twelve common problems that are common in studio lighting. Learn how to problem solve lighting in the studio. Work with issues like getting a white background with one light or multiple lights.

  2. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 2 to 6

    Continue troubleshooting in the studio and dive into creating full-length shots with an all-white background. Work with stacking light, dealing with ambient light, and more.

  3. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 7

    How can you prevent the subject from casting a shadow on the background? In this lesson, Lindsay explains how to tackle this tricky challenge.

  4. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8

    How far away you place the light plays a role in the image -- so what about working inside a small studio? In this lesson, Lindsay tackles the challenges of working inside a small space with studio lights.

  5. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 9

    How do you avoid reflections on the subject's glasses? Learn how to avoid reflections on glasses when using studio lights.

  6. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 10 to 12

    Finish the list of the most common problems that come up with studio lighting. Work with separating the subject from a dark background, lighting groups evenly, and using wide apertures with strobe lights.

  7. Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    In this set of rapid-fire studio set-ups, learn how to light a traditional portrait using, one, two or three lights. Watch behind the scenes for these "go-to" portrait set-ups.

  8. Beauty Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    Beauty shots are a bit different from a traditional portrait. Walk through ideal lighting set-ups for beauty light using one, two and three lights.

  9. Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    Build these go-to group lighting set-ups into your repertoire. Learn easy lighting set-ups for using a single light, or one or two.

  10. Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    Work with three go-to lighting set-ups for drama (which also work well for men). Learn dramatic light with one light, two or three.

  11. Your First Studio Lighting

    In the final lesson, gain insight into what to consider when building your studio lighting kit. Lindsay shares tips on what to buy and how to save cash for photographers on a budget.



If you're on the fence about this class I can easily answer your concerns. BUY IT. Lindsay provides top notch professional education while keeping things interesting. Her words are precise and direct. I actually felt GOOD just watching and learning. I mean, like someone surprised me with a cupcake kinda GOOD. After the class I could immediately see improvements in my photography. The best part is that I learned enough to see the wrong in my setups. Knowing what's wrong is just as important as knowing what's right. She is funny, easy going, energetic and filled with knowledge. I would also highly recommend her Posing 101 class as a must have addition to this course. I feel like I have learned more than I could possibly use. I will be going through this course over and over again just to make sure it all sinks in. There's THAT MUCH she offers that you will always learn more with each time you watch. I hope this helps someone make the decision to up their game. That is exactly what it did for me.

Beatrice Palma

Hi, I am Beatrice from Italy. I think this class is superb. I finally understood what are the guide lines to follow, I tried for years but never found such a good explanation. Lindsay is a wonderful teacher, she explains in a simple way, she shares a lot of knowledge and she shows in practice what are the results of every single choice. Thank you so much, it was really amazing and super interesting!!!!

Penny Foster

I have been shooting families and pets in my living room space for two years now and I thought I was doing a good job but certain skills had eluded me, like lighting a white background to perfection and shooting people with glasses without the reflections in my shots. Then I watched this course and had so many 'aha' moments that I HAD to buy it; not just for Lindsay's teaching style (which is pretty awesome( but also for all the lighting diagrams that I can refer to whenever I feel like 'stepping my lighting up to the next level'. Lindsay shows you what you can do with minimal gear, so you can get started right away; no need for expensive triggers (I have a set that just fires when I press the shutter), and no need for expensive branded modifiers (she shows you what you can do with one umbrella). Lindsay is so enthusiastic, it is obvious that she loves light, and it is hard not to get 'fired up' to try all of her lighting setups. Brilliant course once again!