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Using a Single Studio Light for Boudoir

Using a Single Studio Light in Boudoir

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If you are wanting to increase your lighting options and delve into the world of studio lighting, a great place to start is with a single light. Once you learn how to use a single light you can then branch out more easily into multi-light setups.

The Light

Studio lights come in a few varieties with regards to their basic shape. With single lights, panel lights, and ring lights being the most common. You will primarily want to focus on single lights to start as they are more versatile thanks to aftermarket modifiers. They will also be more powerful than the other options.

After shape, the next thing to consider is whether a strobe(flash) or continuous light will suit your purpose best. A strobe light allows you to overpower the ambient lighting and darken your background. You will have to do some trial and error to get your settings right, but once you get the hang of it you will be OK. Continuous lights are just like they sound, they are always on, so they are easier to set up. They are generally used more for video production than photography as they aren’t as powerful as strobes.

Like with most things, you get what you pay for. A top of the line continuous setup from Apurture will set you back at least a grand. If you are looking for a more affordable option Neweer makes a pretty affordable kit that comes with their Vision 4 light, softbox, light stand, and transmitter you can find here. The great thing about the Vision 4 is that it is battery powered so no cables get in the way.

If you are unsure if off camera lighting is for you, consider renting a light. You can easily rent out a light for a week from a company like to see if it meets your needs before making your final decision.


Using a Single Studio Light in Boudoir

You can also pick up some modifiers while you are at it to get the most out of your light. In fact you will rarely see a pro using theirs completely bare. You will usually see some type of modifier attached to it. Some common ones are:

  • Umbrella

  • Softbox

  • Lantern

  • Grids

  • Gels

  • Shapers

  • V-Flats

At the very least consider a softbox or an umbrella. My vote is for the softbox, as I like the look you get from them vs an umbrella. You can even find some with grid attachments like this one from Neweer. One last thing, the industry standard for attachments is the bowens attachment so be sure your light and any modifiers you get both have that.

Ways to Use It

Now that you have the light let’s focus on how to use it. This post was inspired by a video I saw from Nathan Nelson. In his video he lays out the four basic ways to use a single light:

  • Overhead

  • Side

  • Shaped

  • Reflected

Nathan’s video focuses on fashion/portraits, but it’s still worth watching as we can use those same techniques in boudoir.

I’ll add another way to use a single light here too, bodyscape. Bodyscape is all about highlighting a subject's curves or the shape of the body with a dark background. While it’s more of a separate art/genre from boudoir, you can still use the same concept to get some interesting and unique shots.

Fake Window Light

One of the most inventive ways I have seen photographers use a studio light is by making a fake window for their photography studio. I remember the photographer I first saw this from saying that it was one of the best decisions she ever made as it allowed her to be more consistent in her shoots no matter the time of day or weather affecting the natural light from outside. I tried looking for the post but unfortunately I wasn't successful.

Final Thoughts

A good light with the right modifiers can add a lot of versatility to your tool box. But, you will need to put in the time to learn how to use it properly. I’ve seen a lot of people simply buy a light in the hopes of it magically improving their photography and, spoiler alert, it didn’t work.

One last thing. If you are enjoying this blog and wish to support the work I do here, consider using the Buy me a Coffee button at the bottom of the page to make a one time donation to show your appreciation.

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