For last night’s picture, what did I use?
Here’s the answer. It was a simple softbox. This one:
That gives a beautiful and soft-yet-directional light – which is why softboxes are the gold standard for portraits.
Can you see in the shot above how the light drops off beautifully and softly?
In a small room, the softbox alone is enough. For a beauty portrait, of course, I might add any of the following:
- A reflector, underneath the model’s chin, to bounce light back.
- A hair light (using a snoot).
- A a background light, perhaps with a gel to change the wall’s colour.
But those are optional: quite often a standard beauty light softbox is all you need. So there you go.
A softbox is better than an umbrella because
- It is much more controllable.
- It does not throw (spill) light all over the room where you do not necessarily want it.
- Being double diffused, a softbox produces a softer light than an umbrella.
- It produces a more even light, and avoids hotspots more.
True: it is less convenient because it is bigger and heavier, does not fold into a tiny area, takes longer to set up, and costs more. But considering the advantages above, a softbox may still be the way to go.
Try using a single light with a softbox, and see how you get on!