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Studio lighting for family portraits: How to set up and what to use

Family portraiture may be a tough but rewarding genre, whether you do it professionally or simply want to use your abilities to record lasting memories. In this article, we will go through the setup of studio lighting for family portraits and what fixtures you can use. Read on to get more ideas.

COLBOR CL330 studio light for family portraits is used with a softbox.

Studio lighting setup for family portraits: Three common setups you can use

You can choose the suitable setup according to the lighting effect you want to achieve.

1. Place a single light on-axis with the camera

When it comes to illuminating a group, the simplest and most basic arrangement is actually rather effective. Use a single light source placed high up and on the axis with the camera. If you wish it to have some direction, move it slightly to the side, perhaps between 0 and 45 degrees. More angling results in more contrast. Less angling results in flatter illumination. It's all a question of preference. Just make sure your light is placed up and pointed down at your subjects.


  • Getting this setup is easy and fast. It's an ideal setup of studio lighting for group portraits, class photos, and last-minute group shots.
  • By positioning them behind and away from your subjects, it helps to remove shadows. The shadow of the person in the front row will not obscure the face of the person in the second row in this manner.


  • Because there are so little shadows and contrast, this light arrangement might appear flat and boring.

2. Two lights for studio group photo, on-axis with the camera

Studio lighting for family portraits from a single fixture isn't always powerful enough to illuminate a large group. If you don't have a particularly bright light, consider merging two smaller lights to create a single large light source!

As in setup 1, position your first light...On axis with the camera, high overhead and aiming down. However, this time, put a second light next to the first. In the photograph, the two will act as a single light source, providing enough light to power your group.

Again, if you want more contrast in your picture, move your lights to one side, between 0 and 45 degrees from the center of your group. Feather the lights by angling them slightly so that the light's edge skims across your subjects. This way, you're using the light's edges rather than its full strength straight on. This might assist to reduce hot spots and give your shadows a more smooth transition.

3. Two studio lights to create main and fill lights

How to light a family portrait in the studio if you want more contrast in your scenario? Try a two-light arrangement with a main and a fill light. For small gatherings of 3-8 individuals, this is a favorite way.

Set your initial light to one side of your camera, at a distance of 0 to 45 degrees from your subject. This is the primary light source. Place the second light on the same axis as your camera. It will serve as a fill light, filling in the shadows.

Remember that our aim here is to create studio lighting for family portraits with more contrast or build a scene with more depth and texture. As a result, there must be a power differential between your primary and fill lights. If both studio lights are set at the same power level, your light will be flatter and more one-dimensional.

How to set up lighting for outdoor family portraits?

Outside lighting groups are the same as studio lighting for family portraits. Just make sure your lights aren't underpowered. Speedlights are wonderful for fill but won't be able to overpower the sun for a large gathering. A strobe will most likely be required for this. Also, ensure that your modifier is weatherproof and that your light stands are properly weighted.

What studio light do you need for family portraits?

There is no correct answer to the types and number of lights you use for family portrait photography. However, it is dependent on the ambient light, the size of your group, the type of modifier you are using, the wattage of your light, and how well your camera can manage ISO.

If you are a novice or photographer who wants to see what will the lighting be before pressing the shutter, you can consider using COLBOR LED studio lights. They provide continuous lighting for family portraits at various power outputs from 65W to 330W. You can choose your main or fill lights from them. The variable color temperatures and adjustable brightness give you more control over the lighting.

Besides that, they are compatible with most standard modifiers, so you can shape and direct the illumination as you like. The App control function makes it convenient the adjust the settings when the lights are placed high and distantly.

In addition to these common features, each COLBOR LED studio light has its own function. For example, the COLBOR CL330 LED lights for photography studio come with Red-Green Color Compensation. This ensures color consistency with fixtures you already have.