Contoured Single Soft-Light Portrait

Small adjustments, big changes – give this simple setup a try.

For this portrait photography class, Karl and Urs use a simple lighting modifier in an unusual position to create a beautiful, contoured soft light.

Working in a small, confined space, they show how this single-light setup is ideal for those working in a small studio, but, with minor adjustments, you can greatly change the outcome.

During this tutorial, Urs talks you through his lighting setup, power settings and the reflectors he uses, explaining the impact of each.

In this class:

  • Creative portrait photography using a single light
  • How to create soft, contoured light
  • Photographing in small studio space
  • How to use reflectors
  • How to convey emotion in an image

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hi Karl,

    What are your thoughts on using this kind of a light setup on a model with black hair and darker skin tone?


    1. Hi, there is no reason why it wouldn’t work, only the exposure would need to increase slightly and depending on how glossy the hair is will dictate the rim lighting.

  2. Hi Karl, Just got done watching your class on One Light Setup. The class was Fantastic! In it you use a 120X180 soft box with a roof above. I have a question . I have three choices to use . I have a 65 in deep silver umbrella with a diffusion sock, a 31x47in soft box or, a 44×44 in diffusion scrim . I have a 400 watt light that I will be using. Any thought’s.
    I also love the fact that you are showing that you can do the shots in a small studio . My space is 14 ft x 13 ft with a 10 ft celling.

    1. Hi Greg, to replicate this shot then your 31×47 softbox as close as possible to your subject is probably your best bet.

  3. Thank you for the detailed series of creative examples of how to create a photograph with one light. I was especially impressed by the last two using the 120×180 soft box. Awesome

Leave a Comment