How to Set Up Beautiful Portrait Lighting at Home (and Practically Anywhere)

Thinking of doing some portrait practice at home? This lighting tutorial from Jake Hicks should help you assemble the right setup for the task.

Some portrait projects, personal or otherwise, will require you to shoot at home, which is why it’s important that you know how to set up your lighting, even when working outside the studio. With this quick video tutorial, you’ll be able to use a number of lighting techniques at home or any location other than the studio. In this quick video for LEE Filters, editorial fashion photographer Jake Hicks shows us some of the creative portrait lighting techniques that you can easily pull off even at home. You’ll most likely need to make some adjustments of course, and you probably won’t need to use everything in the tutorial, but we’re sure everything you’ll learn here will come in handy!

For his portrait lighting setup, our photographer started with a 22″ beauty dish for his key light, then a fill light as his secondary light, and a couple of hair lights to create extra depth to the portraits.

For his fill light, he used a 60 x 60 cm softbox placed below the key light, in order to illuminate the shadows a little bit, especially around the jawline. He also cautioned against overdoing this lighting, and that its only job is to fill in the shadows already there. Make sure it doesn’t create any shadows and you’ll do fine. As for the hair lights placed at the back, it creates a nice separation between the model and the background. The goal is to add just a little bit of light on the edge of the hair. To achieve this, the light has to be placed well above the model’s eye line, and should also create highlights on the shoulders and arms.

One last portrait lighting trick you can use is to get extra creative with color gels. When choosing colors, the general rule when using two colors is to pick the ones opposite each other on the color wheel. Another thing to note is that color gels can take around one to three stops of light, so you might need to individually adjust your lighting’s power as needed.


Screenshot image from the video by LEE Filters