How to Achieve Beautiful Soft Light in Small Spaces

This quick tutorial will show you why small spaces shouldn’t limit your lighting setup for portrait sessions.

Want to achieve gorgeous, soft lighting for your portrait sessions but only have a limited space for a lighting setup? In a quick video tutorial for Adorama, Sony Artisan of Imagery Miguel Quiles shows us a simple setup that maximizes the space for beautifully lit portrait shots.

While soft light is just one of the lighting setups you can use to achieve excellent portraits, it’s certainly a favorite of most photographers. This flattering light creates a clean look and softens the shadows and textures of the subject’s face, making it a popular choice for studio portraiture. It usually needs a lot of space and multiple light sources spread around to get the best-looking soft light. If you have no choice but to shoot in a small space, this trick will work just as great.

Miguel’s solution is amazingly simple and requires only three things: a V-Flat, 3-foot light source, and a nice Savage background. The space he worked with was really small as well — it could very well be just a corner in your living room or office space. To make the most out of the limited space and the minimal lighting setup he used the V-Flat to bounce the light from the flash to the subject, instead of lighting his subject directly (as what the usual setup/technique would be). This way, he creates a big, soft beautiful light that perfectly illuminates his subject. Perfect for quick and clean close-up portraits!

Want more soft light tips for stunning portraits? You may want to read up first on this intro to portrait lighting essentials and this softbox guide if you’re new to lighting setups. Shooting in natural light is also a good way to work with gorgeous lighting, so these tips should help you use it effectively. Then, move on to this open shade portrait tutorial if you want to work on a partially open location with lots of soft and directional light.


Screenshot image from the video by Adorama