Studio portraits with steady light aren’t as intimidating as you think


Light is the key to photography. There is no doubt about that. But usually when we’re shooting portraits, especially in the studio, a lot of us choose to use strobes. They are tried and tested, they give us a lot of light, and you can stick some huge modifiers on them. But portraits with permanent light are also possible.

Switching from strobe lights to steady lights can feel a little daunting, however. But in this video, photographer Emily Teague turns off her strobes and switches to a series of steady lights to snap some portraits in her home studio to show that it really isn’t that difficult. After all, light is light.

Regardless of whether you are shooting strobe lights or continuous lights, the same laws of physics all come into play. The inverse square law does not change. Not the principles of hardness and softness in relation to the size of the light source. And while there may be some downsides (like the light from your subject may be shining into their eyes all the time), this can be a great way to work.

Emily tests 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 couple of 4 foot RGBW Pavotubes in an elevator and explains how she sets them up to achieve the look, that she is looking for.

For me, I really only use steady light for videos. When it comes to stills, I usually still use strobes. Continuous light can be great static subjects like products, or close-ups like macros (if they’re bright enough). But these tubes look like fun. Maybe I need to add some to the gear collection!

Do you use continuous light for portraits? Or are you stroboscopes?

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