5 Ways You Can Use a Softbox to Shoot Stunning Portraits

Portrait photographer Miguel Quiles is back with the third part of his series on various lighting modifiers. Part one covered the beauty dish, part two covered the umbrella, and part three is all about the different ways you can use a softbox to capture distinctive portraits.

Though the video is sponsored by Rapidbox, the advice Quiles gives is brand-agnostic. All of the tips will apply equally well to whatever brand of softbox you prefer. He simply runs through the five ways he tends to use softboxes when shooting in studio.

Here’s a quick rundown of all five techniques described in the video, alongside sample images shot with each setup.

1. 40-45 Degrees Horizontal

A great setup for headshots, three-quarter length shots, or even full body shots (given a large enough softbox) this is a great way to bathe your subject in soft light that wraps around and illuminates your background as well.

Sample Photos:

2. Big, Flat Light

This setup is great for clean portraits and beauty images without any of the “drama” of an off-axis setup. By using a large softbox directly in front of the subject and a reflector underneath for fill and an additional catchlight, you get “gorgeous light that you’ll oftentimes see in commercially lit portraits and ad campaigns for major brands.”

Sample Photos:

3. Front Fill from Below

If the reflector in the previous setup is just not providing enough fill, Quiles shows you how to use a small softbox to dial in your fill light just right.

Sample Photos:

4. Hair/Separation Light

This setup shows you how to use a softbox as a hair light, creating separation between your subject and the background so that they really “pop” out of the frame.

Sample Photos:

5. Dual Front Facing Softboxes

As the name implies, this setup involves placing two softboxes directly in front of your subject, and shooting from in-between them. Experiment with subject positioning and varying the power of each softbox individually until you find the settings and setup that will best flatter your particular subject.

Sample Photos:

Check out the full video up top to see exactly how Quiles dials all five of these lighting setups, along with plenty more sample images. And if you want to see this same rundown for other modifiers, definitely go back and watch his videos on using beauty dishes and umbrellas.

Image credits: Photos by Miguel Quiles and used with permission.