Softlight V. Hard light, breaking down 5 lighting setups in the photo studio

Lighting isn’t that hard if you have a good softbox. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

There are two main approaches you can take in the studio, or on location. And which lane you choose will have a huge impact on the outcome of your images. You could choose to emulate window light, or you could choose to simulate sunlight.

As an aside, nighttime interior scenes can be a mix of the two.

Window lit images can be great for creating flattering light for most subjects and will look painterly, given that the Dutch master painters, whom we often seem to evoke, posed their subjects near an open window.

Sun lit images tend to have harsh shadows and speculated highlights. This type of lighting can be great for athletes and adolescents, but it might not be the best choice for the textured skin of aging adults.

In the interest of exploring these two approaches, let’s go over five lighting setups.

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