Photography Cheat Sheet: 24 Essential Pro Lighting Setups

Want to level up your lighting setup for studio portraits? This photography cheat sheet is your handy guide to a bunch of essential pro lighting setups to master.

Lighting is one of the most important elements to master for studio portrait work, but it’s also quite challenging. Apart from setting the mood, feel, and emphasis of a portrait, it also opens photographers up to various creative techniques. If you’re serious about being a well-rounded portrait photographer, you’ll have to learn how to light at some point in your practice. It may seem daunting at first, but with resources like today’s photography cheat sheet, you’ll be working with essential pro lighting setups in no time!

The photography cheat sheet below by Digital Camera World covers some tried and tested lighting techniques and variations that you can try in the studio. It’s a handy reference for achieving various looks ranging from simple and clean to powerful and dramatic.

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At the bottom of the cheat sheet, you’ll find a rundown of the different equipment you’ll have to prepare in the studio to achieve the lighting techniques. If you’ve already spent some time working with studio setups, you’ll most likely be familiar with strobes and strobe accessories, as well as light modifiers like softboxes, reflectors, and umbrellas. A grey background is used as an example here, but you’re free to use any backdrop you choose.

What’s great about this cheat sheet is it gives you an idea of the many variations you can attempt, even with a single light source paired with a modifier. The classic Rembrandt lighting, for example, can produce different looks depending on your setup. Even if you’ve yet to master some of the equipment mentioned, you’ll be on your way with the help of this photography cheat sheet.

If you liked this guide, we recommend checking out more of our resources on studio lighting and portrait photography.