Simple Lighting Setup For Portraits Using ONLY 2 Lights!

Let’s unpack it together in this photography tutorial.

Video tutorial behind the scenes using only 2 lights for portrait photo setup

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Simple Lighting Setup for Portrait Photography

Use ONLY 2 Lights to create Dramatic Portraits with this Simple Lighting Setup!

You will save a ton of time and space packing just two lights using this simple lighting setup for portraits. This easy to follow lighting setup is great for on-location photoshoots!

Portrait Photographer Jiggy shows you in this tutorial the behind the scenes of a wedding portrait photoshoot and how he lit them using just two lights.

How to Use this 2 Light Easy Setup for Portraits

Learn how to light portrait photos with this easy to replicate two light setup.

In this tutorial Jiggy uses a Sony A7 Mark IV camera with a 50mm f1.2 gm lens for his portraits.

Check out this 50mm lens by Sony and a Canon 50mm lens for different options.

The only lights you need for this Simple Lighting setup for portraits:

Two LED monolights, each on a stand.

These lights are super bright, lightweight so handy for on the go photoshoots, and can run cable-free on battery power.

Jiggy suggests using the Nanlite Forza 60s but other comparable lights include:

GVM 200W Light Kit

Nanlite Forza 720

SmallRig 120W Light

Godox ML30Bi LED

Nanlite Forza 60 is all you need for the simple portrait lighting

Simple Lighting Setup for portraits Step 1: Set up one light from the back or side

Set up one of the lights behind the subject or slightly to the side to get nice backlighting. This creates a beautiful light rim or ring backlighting the subject.

Mount this light on a short stand to get the right angle.

Using a back light will create a dark and moody final look to the photo as the background becomes underexposed, or less bright.

This will also help to minimize background objects or distractions.

In this photo, Jiggy has just set up the back light only and it shows the underexposed background and light ring on the subjects:

Backlight using the led is step one for simple portrait lighting

Simple lighting setup Step 2: Set up the second light pointed at the subject

The second light you need is the other Nanlite Forza 60, with the soft box light modifier attached. This creates a soft, diffused lighting effect that will make the subjects pop in the picture.

This light will highlight the subjects from the front, with this second light pointed onto them.

Position this light behind yourself or whoever is taking the photo.

In this behind the scenes photo, you can see the two lights set up for the portrait:

Two lights set up for portrait photo

Step 3: This simple lighting setup for portraits means you will need to adjust the subject’s poses

Once you have the lights setup, the subject will have to pose according to how the light is hitting.

Take some test shots and adjust the subject or subjects as needed to get better lighting angles.

You may need them to be closer, or move the angles of their faces or adjust the angle of their arms.

In this photo, Jiggy had the couple adjust the angle of their bodies and move in closer to each other:

Posing is important for this simple lighting setup to get the right light

Step 4: Adjust & balance the exposure and light power for this portrait lighting setup

The balance between your camera exposure settings vs the light power settings is important for this setup.

Your light setup will also depend on how much natural or ambient light you have already in the location.

Access your camera’s exposure settings and adjust higher or lower depending on how you want the photo to look and how the two lights look on your subject. Try different test shots to get the right balance.

While changing the exposure settings, you can also adjust the power for each light individually, making it brighter or dimmer based on what you want the photo to look like.

This is the final portrait before editing from this behind the scenes shoot using just the two lights:

Final portrait using the two light setup

Using this simple lighting setup for portraits will make lighting on-the-go so easy!

You will also want to keep in mind the changes you can and will make in post while editing the portraits and adjust your lighting for that final outcome as well.

Want to learn more about improving your photography skills – check out this helpful comprehensive guide!

Which one of these steps will you use for lighting your next portrait photoshoot?

Comment below!

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