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Profoto D1

Studio Lighting Setup Diagram - One Light for Two Persons

I prefer to have one person in front of the camera at the time, if I can chose. But that is something I can not do all the time. So I try to develop ways of doing it as easy as I manage. Smaller groups, like two people is ok. And here are a few things I try to think of to make it as painless as possible.

For this shot, I just used a large 5-foot Profoto softbox Octa with a Profoto D1 and a white background (turned slightly grey from the lack of background lights).

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Beauty portrait with make-up, studio lighting with setup for face photo. Stefan Tell

This kind of beauty portraits in my studio is not what I usually do, but the lighting setup is useful for all kinds of headshots. The main difference might be that these photos have a lot more make-up and hours in Photoshop than the rest of my portfolio.

The client was a Swedish producer of make-up and they wanted photos of their products in use on a model to show the colours of the season. In my studio we managed to fit a model, a stylist, a hairdresser, a couple of people from the client’s office. And me. And four studio lights. And some light shapers.

Behind the scenes and how I did it…

Beauty dish portrait without grid, 5-foot softbox Octa as fill.

On one of my latest assignment shooting studio portrait of a Swedish illustrator, I did a few different setups in the studio. One of them was this, a simple lighting setup using two Profoto D1 lights. Main light in both portraits were a white Profoto Softlight Reflector camera right on a boom.

The portrait above uses a large 5-foot softbox Octa as fill camera left, but the characteristic beauty dish look is still visible. With no grid and the model pretty close to the background, the white cyclorama is light grey.

Just add a grid…


This is Anders Jacobsson, well known Swedish author of children’s books, movies and tv-series. He is a nice and happy guy, and is almost always portrayed that way. When I got the assignment from his publisher to shoot a few author portraits, they told me that his next book would be titled “The horror in the attic” (direct translation of the original title). If you write horror stories, even if they are for kids, you can’t really look too happy, so I aimed for something more dark and serious.

This is how I set up the lights…

Portrait lit with two lights, one flash through window for hard sunlight effect. Profoto zoom reflector

Sometimes the idea how to light a portrait, on-location or in the studio, comes naturally. Mostly on-location, I must confess, as the studio often is the dreaded blank white paper that can induce some kind of lighter’s block in me.

Anyway, this was an assignment for a large Swedish publishing house and they wanted new author portraits, or headshots, of the famous Ulf Nilsson. He was kind enough to let me use his apartment in the Old Town of Stockholm as a studio for the day. He is also my brother-in-law (altough none of us are married to the ones we are living with, yet). The apartment is quite spectacular, and has a very special layout which made this shot possible. I didn’t even need a ladder.

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