Your Home Studio: A Full Portrait Kit

One of the things you need to do to be a serious photographer is get a home studio running. And the good news: you do not need much.


You can do it by using something like this—and this is a pretty well equipped speedlight portrait setup:

  1. Camera and lens(es). Pretty much any lens will do since you will be shooting at f/8. Use longer lenses for headshots. My favourite is my 70-200.
  2. Four cheap flashes. You can use any flash, any brand of flash whose power can be set manually and whose automatic time-out can be disabled. Like $85 Yongnuo manual (non-TTL) speedlites.
  3. Five Pocketwizards (or similar). The simplest, non-TTL types.
  4. Four Pocketwizard to hotshoe cables (from PW or from
  5. Four light stands.
  6. Two umbrella/flash mount brackets
  7. Two umbrellas.
  8. Two ball heads (for background light and hair light)
  9. 2 Speed straps, one Honl speedsnoot, one Honl photo 1/4″ grid.
  10. One set of Honl photo artistic gels.
  11. A backdrop stand with two or three crossbars (unless you have a grey wall).
  12. A roll of background paper. I suggest dark grey. But white and black are also useable.

We are talking a camera plus perhaps a couple of thousand dollars to be completely equipped for headshots, three-quarter shots, etc. (To make things easy, I recommend using a complete Honl photo kit, from – use that link, and use discount word “Willems” at checkout to get an additional 10% off the kit price.)

That’s not much equipment. Yes, you can even do it in a simpler fashion (e.g. by using “SU-45” flash follower mode on three of the four flashes, and by using a reflector for your fill light), and you can do this in several phases rather than all at once, but the above setup gives you a reliable pro kit, and some redundancy as well.

If you want to learn how to do this, good news. It’s easy. Come to a custom personal class (see or join one of my Brantford meetups or buy my acclaimed e-book bundles from

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