Studio lights? No… livingroom window.
When you don’t have studio lighting, but need to take really great shots of someone, I can’t overstate the usefulness of using a big window. If you’ve got a white room, this can be like putting your subject inside a human sized lightbox.
I needed to do a headshot series for a friend, and also to get my FO shots for “Put a Little Love Out”. We didn’t have a studio space to work in, so I rigged something using the windows in my bedroom and the white sliding doors on my closet.
Jeanette is standing in front of my closet, facing the bedroom window. I have a camera mounted flash, with a softbox on the flash head, pointed up at the white ceiling instead of towards her face. On the bed in front of her is a reflector (read: tinfoil) which prevents any hard shadows underneath her features from the flash.
The results were perfect. The only retouching I really had to do was removing a slight shadow between Jeanette and the closet. It’s a good solution for quickie model photography on the cheap!
You can put that big window to use in other ways as well – here my girlfriend Lynn is posing in front of the window, and I’m using it as a giant lightbox behind her. I’m using a flash in the front with a softbox mounted directly to the flash to prevent her from becoming a silhouette.
In this case, when you use the window behind instead of in front, you get a nice light halo effect around your subject. In soft photography like maternity work this can work out really well for you.
So there you have it – whether you’re doing portraits or just need to get a good FO shot – you might not need to go far to have a great ‘studio’ set up!