So you got your first lights. Heck maybe you just got some floodlights from home depot. Now what?

  1. If you’re not using your camera in manual mode. For the love of everything on this blue earth stop right now. You need to be using manual mode. If you’re not then you will get extremely inconsistent results which will frustrate you to no end. Studio work is about control.
  2. Go get a light meter. These are one of the biggest timesavers that I know of. A light meter will let you determine the exposure of each key area in a given scene and make educated adjustments.
  3. Start with a single light. If you’re feeling lost take a deep breath and start with a single light. Take a photo, observe the results, add another if you need it.
  4. Learn a couple default setups for each kind of scenario you’re likely to encounter. For example if you’re going to be doing single person portraits tomorrow just memorize clamshell and three point lighting. As you advance it’s going to be important that you understand why each kind of lighting works but when you’re getting started just getting it to work is more important.
  5. Light it from behind! If you’re shooting objects try lighting it with a single light at 10:30 on the clock face. You might need more than that but start with that one. Just try it. I’ll bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.