Ligthing for home Santa Pix

I want to do home holiday photos of my grandson (age 3) and his dogs and would like some advice regarding lighting. Since the SI 2020 didn’t happen, I don’t know much about studio lighting. Should I just try my speedlite with Rogue diffuser, put the flash off camera, and tape a sheet on the wall? Or buy some inexpensive lights and background online? Do I need a minimum of two lights, or should I hope for a sunny day streaming thru the living room windows and use flash for fill. Thx.

Hi Jared,

I recommend using your Speedlite flash in ETTL and bouncing it against a white wall. That’s a very simple way to diffuse the harshness of those. You may need a higher ISO as well, like 800. There are a lot of “It depends” in this particular situation, such as: what color are the walls? where in the room will the child be in relation to walls or windows? Can your camera handle high ISOs? Does your flash do ETTL or ETTL-II? What is the ambient light in there read at various ISOs? What’s sort of shutter speeds are you looking at in the space?
If you can get the Speedlite off-camera and use a trigger to fire it, that opens up more options for better lighting. But if you are stuck to flash on-camera then aim it at an adjacent wall or ceiling to help diffuse the light.


Hi Jared,
I recommend checking out Felix Kunze’s Lighting Series from It’s an excellent resource to learn lighting the easy way. I also struggled with lighting, but Felix’s courses were a Godsend. I bought a Godox and some modifiers (i’m about to purchase a lantern light, likely a Glow or Godox) and watched his courses. I think you’ll find him very helpful. Best of luck! EDIT: The Lighting Series is currently on sale through Sunday for 50% off!

Hi Amy
Thanks for the suggestions. The Portrait Masters looks very thorough. Nice lights from Godox. As I’m just doing this for personal use, I ordered a less expensive (and returnable) lighting set up from Amazon online and we will see how that goes with one three year old, three dogs, mom, grandma and auntie all giving their advice. I just did some outdoor Halloween pix in the shade and they came out well, but I noticed how hard it is to get all of the little details just right with an active child. Looked at your photos online; they are a great inspiration. Thx again.

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Good luck and be sure to let us know how they turn out!

Hi Again. The plan was to photograph one 3 year old boy, 3 dogs, one cat, xmas tree and props on black background and flooring for seasons greeting cards from Shutterfly. I bought Neewer light kit from Amazon ($165) and the lights (45w x 4 bulbs) are just too weak even with overhead recessed lighting on and shades open. Continuous lighting concept worked well (like indoor wildlife photography). Pix are cute, but at Tv 1/250 or faster on Canon 5D4 at f/4 or 5.6, auto iso went to 1600 or 3200. The background was smaller than advertised; we added black sheets. So likely I’ll return this and look at either different brand with brighter CFLs (no info on sockets re: maximum size from Neewer) or LED panels (online the panel seem like their light is really harsh). My customer/daughter is happy!

I recently bought a Yeemaylux LED light strip that’s daylight balanced and 30’ long. My plan is to stick it to a it to a white 4x4’ panel in rows for a large light source. I do a lot of work in my basement studio and this will fit behind my curtains or scrim to simulate daylight or used as a fill light since it’s dimmable. All told $20 DIY project. I also use ProFoto strobes and a powerful Godox constant light but this one is purpose built for my window wells. If you’re interested I can let you know how it turns out.

Hi Mike. Those lights look really cool, I’d be interested to see how they look on the wall. In the end I used Godox S30 and hearts bogo projected onto a black background over my grandson’s head. Came out well.

I finally put this together and it’s just ok. It turned out to be about 1/3 stop less than the natural light coming in the window well on the shady side of the house. So as a light source for portraits you could shoot at f2.8 / 1/125 / ISO 640 a little fill from a V-Flat. Or it can be used as a constant light for fill with various power levels.

All said is it worth 20 - 25 bucks…sure. Is it going to rock my lighting world…no.

Hope this helps.