Sharing some of my "Go - To" setups

Once upon a time, I was a natural light gal. I was too scared to learn how to use my speedlite, or even try out a continuous light. However, once I took the time to figure it out — and actually spent the time practicing — I never looked back. Which is why I want to share my three go-to lighting setups. Trust me, you won’t look back either!

Lighting is extremely important in product photography. That goes without saying. But natural light doesn’t always cut it. Artificial light gives you so much control over your images. You can create virtually any effect you want with the help of placement and modification. A super bright shot? Something darker? A bit of a glow? You can do it all. And do it well. Here’s how.

One Light

This is obviously the easiest. And what I recommend for most beginners! I still use this set up in many of my shoots today since I know what works and the effect it will achieve. The concept here is to place your light on one side of your subject and use bounce boards or reflectors to “bounce” and “reflect” that light back into the scene, for when you want to achieve an overall balanced light. 

If you’re going for harsh shadows, you can shoot with the bare bulb. But if you’re looking to get that natural daylight look, you’ll want to add some modifiers. For example: softboxes, diffusion paper, etc. I wrote about my favourite studio essentials, including diffusion paper, here.

Two Lights

Adding a second light source can create a similar effect to the one light and bounce board combo. Although, having that second light as its own piece gives you so much more control of how to manipulate the shadows! A few ways I like to use this light setup in my scenes include:

  1. A light on each side of my subject
  2. A key light to the side of my subject and a fill light coming in from the opposite side, slightly behind and on a slight angle
  3. A key light to the side of my subject and a fill light lighting the background

Three Lights

The third light can be used to create a completely even light in your images. However, you can also use the third light in the same ways I’ve highlighted above in the two light setup. This includes placing one light on your subject, one on the backdrop, and another one as “fill.” When you do this, you’ll create the most beautiful and evenly lit photo which ensures you have less to do in editing! And who doesn’t want that?

Of course with all these setups, you can manipulate the light using modifiers and gels to get many different effects. You can also add lights wherever necessary, depending on where you’d like the scene to be lit. Or if you want to bounce light off other surfaces into the scene. Honestly, the possibilities are endless. All it takes is a little experimentation and practice to find what works for you.

Let me know if this post was helpful. I’d love to see some of your go-to lighting setups! Tag me on social media @jeevaltailorphoto