Taking studio portraits with continuous lights isn’t as intimidating as you might think


Light is the key to photography. Of this there is no doubt. But generally when we take portraits, especially in the studio, many of us will opt for strobes. They’ve been proven successful, they give us a lot of light, and you can stick huge modifiers into them. But it is also quite possible to take portraits with continuous light.

Going from strobes to continuous can seem a little intimidating, however. But in this video, the photographer Emily teague throws in his strobes and switches to a continuous light set to take portraits in his home studio to show that it really isn’t that difficult. After all, light is light.

Whether you’re shooting strobes or continuous lights, all of the same laws of physics come into play. The inverse square law doesn’t change. Do not do the principles of hardness and softness in relation to the size of the light source. And while there are potentially downsides (like your subject potentially having the light constantly shining in their eyes), it can be a great way to work.

Emily tests out several Nanlite continuous lights in the video, including the Compac 200B light panel, the FS 150 with the Parabolic 90 and to spice things up a bit, a bunch of 4 foot RGBW poppies in an elevator and explains how she puts them together to get the look she’s going for.

For me, I really only use continuous lights for video. When it comes to stills, I generally prefer strobes. Continuous lights can be great static subjects like products or for close-ups like macro (if they’re bright enough). But these tubes sound like fun. Maybe I should add some to the material collection!

Do you use continuous lights for portraits? Or are you strobing all the way?

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