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What should a complete beginner's photography lights kit contain?

What should a complete beginner's photography lights kit contain?

The word “photography” comes from Greek and means "drawing with light". This shows that photography lighting is one of the most important aspects and that understanding light it's a slightly more complicated concept than we would expect in an era where we all have a camera in our hands all the time. 

We tend to grab a camera and begin shooting without giving lighting too much thought. 

Thus, it is important for beginners to gain some basic skills and to understand how to equip photography lights set without spending too much.

Light is essential for shooting, so even if you are a beginner and not a professional photographer, you should use the right photography lighting equipment to capture the perfect images and save time on image editing.

Here are some essential photography lighting tips:

Natural lighting or Flashlights

Beginners often think that photography lighting is all about flashes and strobes, but natural light plays an even more critical role. 

It is an art to know how to use light that is already present in the environment, whether we are talking about direct light from the sun, light entering through windows, or light sources already present, like candles, lamps, or fluorescent bulbs. Using natural light is the best way to learn how to do professional photography lighting.

Although you will not be able to control the light source, you will be able to change the time of day you are shooting; you are free to move the subject to the front or back of the light source or filter the light with shadows. You can create warm light for portrait shots using lamps or candles. When photographing indoors, consider all light sources present.

However, most photographers, even beginners, prefer to have control over their photos, so they will be tempted to use the Speedlight flashes.

Speedlight flashes are very lightweight and portable and can usually be paired with other units around the studio to produce multiple light sources. Also, portable Speedlight lighting kits are flexible and can be positioned at almost any distance from the subject and any angle, and can disperse the light with umbrellas and softboxes. 

They are faster than standard flashes and one of the best product photography lighting equipment to shoot product images.

The Importance of Position in Lighting Setup

With light, in photography, you have two options: either you move the light source or move the subject to alter the light’s position, be it natural or artificial. 

Front lighting is one of the simplest ways to shoot, and it usually produces a flat image that may appear dull. 

Putting the light in front of the subject brings out the shoot’s detail with the shadows falling behind the object, with little or no depth or contour. 

Side lighting, or lighting a subject from the side, will help produce the most dramatic pictures, with deep shadows and a lot of depth.

When shooting with lighting from the side, you must pay attention to where the shadows fall and make small adjustments in the subject’s position to create a distinct and exciting look.

Although backlighting can create spectacular images, it is best to be avoided as a beginner. When the light is behind your subject, the subject usually appears shadowed or silhouetted. To use backlighting and add an extra element of interest and depth to pull your subject out of the frame, to create portraits with a halo effect, leaves, or flowers that appear to glow, you have to master the manual mode. 

Credits: Guess Fashion Campaign

Soft Light or Hard Light

Each light source has its qualities. Large light sources will produce softer light, while smaller light sources like camera flashes without a modifier will create harsh shadows. 

Distance also plays a role. Close light sources are softer, while distant light sources create that hard light. 

Soft light is usually preferable to hard light and occurs when light is diffused, spread out in many directions from the light source. A cloudy day is an excellent example of soft light. The soft light it’s a great starting point for beginners because it’s easier to work with.

When photo shooting a portrait, hard light emphasizes imperfections in the skin, while soft light tends to disguise blemishes a bit better. 

If you're trying to make the light softer, you can use a diffuser like flashes and studio strobes. To soften the light, place a white umbrella between the light and the subject, called a shoot-through umbrella.

Professional photographers working with models often use large light setups that disperse a lot of light onto the subject but still produce a soft light look, known as a beauty box. 

A hard light source produces shadows with a minimal transition between the image’s light and dark areas. When misused, hard light will create dark shadows under the eyes in portraits, resulting in a sharp look that is usually not what your clients are looking for. 

Hard light is suitable if you look for a dramatic feeling for your photos and create more contrast in an image. 

Strobe Lighting or Continuous Lighting

Which is the best option for a beginner’s photography lighting equipment kit: a strobe lighting kit or a continuous lighting kit?

The difference between the two is that with strobes, the lights come in short bursts, whereas continuous lights are on all the time. This is the reason why strobe lights are assumed to be more powerful than continuous lights.

Continuous lights are recommended when a photographer needs to see how an image will look when the shoot is in process. 

Fashion campaigns are now shot with artificial light so that the photographer can control every aspect of how the light falls on the subject.

Strobe lighting is the best option when shooting still portraits; on the other hand, for photography beginners, continuous lights are considered much more compatible and work best on product photography and videos.

Continuous lighting is also more affordable, an important aspect when you are at the beginning of your career as a photographer. 

Continuous lighting

Strobe Lighting


It is not as complicated as it may seem to master photography lighting, and if you follow the tips mentioned above you can ensure that you can easily enhance the quality of your photos and improve your photography skills.

If you are looking for professional photography services for product images or fashion campaigns we are here to help you.

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