5 SIMPLE Steps to Photographing Classic Studio Portraits

5 SIMPLE Steps to Photographing Classic Studio Portraits

Are you looking for techniques for Classic Studio Portraits? Good News! You don’t need much to shoot beautiful classic studio portraits. How to shoot Classic Studio Portraits with basics? Today’s 5 simple steps will definitely offer you inspirations!

Want to level up your portrait photography RIGHT NOW? This video will give you the best solutions for classic studio portraits you want! Follow the step-by-step guide, try the particular tchniques, you will find how this can be so easy to achieve a beautiful, classic studio portrait photography in just Seconds, with just 5 simple steps!

Jiggie Alejandrino, the portrait & wedding photographer we introduced before, brings about new lighting tutorial this week. He’s the Sony Ph Brand Ambassador, the Zeiss Camera Lens Ambassador, and regarded as one of the most reputable lighting specialists.

Today Jiggie’s going to share & demo this easy 5-step process, in order for you to be able to create your classic portraits in the studio. They are:

Step 1: Ask Yourself What Type of Backdrop You Will be using?

Choosing the right backgrounds can be important, because the backgroound will actually dictate the mood of your image. If you decide to use a white backdrop, then you know that you're going to be creating a very bright image; If you go for a dark background, you know more or less you're leading towards a dramatic photograph.

In this video, Jiggie chose a 5x7ft hand-painted backdrop. Hand-painted backdrops can always work for classic studio portrait photogrpahy.

For more inspirations: The Best Hand-Painted Canvas Backdrop For Studio Portrait Photography!

Step 2: Ask Yourself What Light & Modifier You Will Be Using?

Choosing the light source is actually easier than you think, because all you have to do is using the ones that are readily available for you. In other words, if you have a studio strobe, then use a studio strobe; if you have a continuous light source, then used a continuous light source.

For more inspirations: Continuous Lighting vs. Strobes: 2 Portrait Lighting Choice You Should Know

In this case, Jiggie used an ordinary speed light. It’s a sony f60 rm. The modifier that he used for this particular shoot is this photix premium 120 umbrella . This umbrella is relatively affordable, so it's a good place for you guys to start if you’re just starting a studio work. It also gives fantastic soft light.

Once you decide what light & modifier you will be using, have your light mounted on the magmod mag shoe, and set up your light source.

Step 3: Ask Yourself What Lens You are Going to Be Using?

Depends on your vision. For example, as a classic portrait photographer Jiggie likes shooting tight. Of course you could also shoot wide. Jiggie chose the 85 millimeter 1.4 gm from sony. It gives the least distortion when you crop in tight. The camera will be the sony a7r mark iv.

For more inspirations: What are The Best Lens for Studio Photography?

Step 4: Camera Settings.

To properly explain to you why the camera settings are set as such, Jiggie shift his lens into the 50 f/1.4 (so that can get more of the background in), and start from the first thing you need to consider: Do you want ambient light to be in your shot or not?

  • Do you want ambient light to be in your shot or not?

Technically for studio work, you're not supposed to have any of the ambient light in. So that's why when you set your camera settings, you set it to remove all ambient light. Then how to do that?

  1. First, Set Your Set the iso to be the lowest number possible in order to get the cleanest images. Iso is 100, so that's the one going to give you the best image quality in terms of noise.
  2. Next, Set Your Shutter Speed. Jiggie put his shutter speed to 1/250, which is the flash sync speed of this camera together with this trigger. So at shutter speed 1/250 which is controlling the ambient light.
  3. Set Your Aperture. At f/2.8, shutter speed 1/250, iso 100, the scene is basically pitch black according to your camera. Turn on your flash, it will automatically turn off live view, and you will be able to see what i am actually shooting.
  4. Set Your White Balance. White balance is subjective, so it really depends if you want it in the warmer or cooler tone. For Jiggie, since he was going to shoot a raw plus jpeg, it would be better to set white balance to 5600 kelvin, so he can get consistent white balance all throughout.

“When I do post process it, if I want to be able to create a warmer image, all I have to do is set one image to be warmer, and then afterwards I can just copy everything, since the white balance is all the same. That's why I don't like shooting auto white balance when it comes to studio work.”

Step5: Light Positioning & Light Power.

Position your light, have the edge of your light more or less towards the face of subject. This is called ‘Feathering The Light’. This is done in order to control the spill in the background, and at the same time, give softer light on subject’s face.

Since you've dialed in settings already in the camera,if the image is overexposed or underexposed, what you will be adjusting will be the flash power.

 As you can see, it's under exposed. So in other words, the flash is too weak for the settings. Adjust the power of flash to 1/8. Now you can get beautiful portraits!

Finally, the last thing that you need to do is just pose our subject.

So that's how easy it is to create a classic studio portrait at home. To summarize, follow those 5 easy steps:

  1. Choose the background. The background can be white, black, like a hand- painted one. You can also use collapsible ones or your standard reflector as a background. But it really depends on the vision that you want to create.
  2. Choose the type of lightand modifier that you will be using. You can use your flash or your studio strobe, or even a continuous light.
  3. Choose your lens. The choice of lens is also dependent on your vision, even before you actually shoot you already have more or less a vision of how you want the image to turn out
  4. Camera settings. Camera settings is where you control your ambient light. Use your shutter speed, your Iso, and your aperture to remove all ambient light, so that the light that you are getting in your images just comes from the flash that you are using.
Please note:
  • Don't forget that your camera mode is set to manual, then try to use the lowest iso as possible. 
  • Know the flash sync speed of your camera, so that you know the maximum shutter speed that you can go without bending.
  • Don't forget also to set your white balance, so that you get a consistent image all throughout.
  • Don't forget to shoot in raw plus jpeg, so that you have your raw files in case you get your colors wrong. It's going to be very easy for you to adjust.
  1. Have your flash power and your flash position. Remember to position your light firstbefore adjusting your power, because every time you move your light, you will also be affecting the power of your flash.


With this 5-step guide, you will see, you can always create classic studio portraits and you don’t need much. Choose the correct background, light & modifier, lens, control the ambient light by standard camera settings, adjust your flash power & flash position, everyone can easily create classic studio portraits photography at home. 

Regarding the backdrops, Jiggie chose a 5x7ft Kate Abstract Texture Cold Tones of Green and Grey Hand-painted Canvas Backdrop, which is completely well qualified for the job.

For More Inspirations: 

Kate Hand-Painted Collections

Kate 2021 Easter Backdrops Collection

Kate 2021 Spring Backdrops Collection


Read More Resources: Handbook of Photography Backdrop

This is an exercise that you can do with basic equipments & studio space, and of course, you also need a fantastic Hand-Painted Photography Backdrop. Hope you can enjoy this video, and get some inspirations on lighting your own classic portrait photography.


Equipment used:

Backdrop: Kate Backdrop: https://bit.ly/3ab7fiP

Camera: Sony A7R MarkIV - https://amzn.to/2TXhv78

Lens: Sony Zeiss 50mm 1.4 - https://amzn.to/3clvI3S

Flash: Sony F60RM - https://amzn.to/36VsaUW

Trigger: Sony Wireless Radio Commander (FA-WRC1M) - https://amzn.to/3do6dAb

Modifier: Phottix 120CM

Flash Holder: MagMod MagShoe: https://amzn.to/36LqZHI

Phottix Premio Diffuser for Reflective Umbrella: https://amzn.to/3j1kTsJ

Phottix Premio 120cm Reflective Umbrella: https://amzn.to/3aiKA42

Wifi Transmitter: Hollyland Mars300Pro: https://amzn.to/3r9w8lT


About The Photographer: Jiggie Alejandrino is a portrait and wedding photographer from the Philippines. He’s the Sony Ph Brand Ambassador, the Zeiss Camera Lens Ambassador, the International Phottix Pro Teamer, and the MagMod Philippines Brand Ambassador. He's and considered to be one of the most reputable lighting specialists in the Philippines, conducting workshops nationwide and have been featured in various photography magazines. I was also a multi-awarded portrait and advertising photographer.

Learn More:Youtube Channel  ;  jiggiealejandrino.com


If you like this article, please share it! Be sure to join our FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KatebackdropsEur/. to share your ideas! You can also receive free articles, updates as well as discounts information from https://www.katebackdrop.co.uk/ and our FB Group.