When setting up a photography home studio, I’m a huge fan of starting cheap and going from there. Following on with that thinking, whenever we are asked by a novice photographer “what is the best home lighting equipment for beginners” I immediately point them to places like ebay, where you can buy a lighting setup that will work, for a very affordable price.
There’s a few reasons why I would start out with inexpensive gear over the more expensive product. Firstly you need to learn about light in general. How light creates different moods. How to control the light so that it falls in the best direction for certain poses. The strength or softness of light for different circumstances. These are only things you will learn with experience.
There are so many variables when setting up a home studio that it is very difficult to precisely say that this equipment is better than that. Simple things like the size of the room, the color of the walls, the amount of natural light entering the room, the source and type of artificial light, will all have a decided effect on the amount of confected light you may need to create a photograph to your liking. Most times you probably have a flash or speed light already in your kit, yet learning that home studio lighting seems a daunting challenge.
By going cheap you can learn the basics of lighting without the pressure of having to produce startling results from day one, just because you have good gear. There are so many different types of equipment that it is really confusing to the novice photographer what to use and when to use this or that type of lighting. Yet if you start slow and learn at your own pace, you won’t get confused whether you should use a soft box, an umbrella, a snoot or barndoor.
This is my recommended equipment for a beginner home studio.
- A backdrop in either white, grey, black or green
- 2 lights with daylight globes
- 2 umbrella’s and stands
- 2 softboxes and stands
- Various size clamps
If your studio room is small, you may need to downsize your light bulbs so that your lighting is softer. For example most of the affordable kits ship with 135 watt globes, which may give harsh shadows at close range. If you can’t physically move the light away from the subject due to space limitations, downsize your bulbs to 55 watts.
At first play with the different gear, umbrellas versus softboxes and the different backdrops. Some photographers prefer green backdrops where others like white or black. Move the lighting around to see the effect of shadows on your subject. Or move it so there are no shadows at all.
- Starting with this type of basic kit allows you to learn how to use the equipment at home.
- It doesn’t stretch your budget too far.
- It is easy to store.
- If you damage something while learning, it doesn’t cost a fortune to replace.
Over time you will know if your home lighting needs to be expanded to include other forms of equipment and if your business can afford upgrading to more expensive options.
The above is purely a starter kit, yet it could perform the way you want for many years.