Three-Quarter-Length Portrait With Soft Light and Shadows

Two lighting masters share their secrets.

This photography class sees Karl Taylor and Urs Recher demonstrate how to achieve a stunning three-quarter-length shot using three lights with basic modifiers.

The final image is a beautiful combination of lighting – a result of careful control and complete knowledge. Watch as the pair demonstrate how to make the most of the setup, space and available light to achieve a beautiful, soft portrait.

Working in a small studio, Karl also explains how to modify a small space to get the best possible results. At the end of the shoot, they demonstrate why these modifications are so important. Urs explains why this setup is ideal for group shots and demonstrates how completely different results can be achieved with no changes to the setup.

In this class:

  • Studio Lighting: How to set up multiple studio lights
  • Three light setup for portrait photography
  • Working in a small studio space
  • How to use negative fill
  • How to prevent lens flare in studio photography
  • Useful equipment for studio photography
  • Studio lighting setups for group shots

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. HI KARL,
    I wonder if The use of the black fabric instead of putting up curtains, can also be done with Vflats in the dark black side, since I do not have a C stand.
    Great setup! No shadows cast.

    Thanks for the enlightenment!

  2. If you used the light behind a big butterfly diffuser, can you reach the same conclusion about the lighting and contrast?

    1. Hi Berat, only if (from the models perspective) the diffuser was as big as the walls that we were illuminating here,

  3. At first I didn’t spot the light coming off of the gray background behind her. Then he showed it, wow amazing what a difference it was to put that black fabric in. The use of the black fabric instead of putting up curtains was a nice touch using the c stand to hold it. Thank you for that

  4. Hello Karl, I ´ve been looking at your videos and I have seen that all your lenses are Prime f1.2 however you use them with small apertures up to f11, I have my Canon 70-200 F4, Canon 5d MarkIII, is there any F stop difference betwen lenses while using F11 aperture?

    1. Hi, actually the lens I use the most is a 100mm f2 lens and an 80mm f2.8 lens but you are right I have a 50mm f1.2 and an 85mm f1.2 that I use too. I very rarely use these lenses and full open aperture of f1.2 as the depth of field is actually too shallow but it is nice to have for creative effect when needed. Generally speaking if you used a 70-200 at around 85mm at f11 or an 85mm at f11 most people wouldn’t be able to tell much difference. The exposure value on all lenses is a mathematical calculation so any lens at f5.6 or f11 for example should be bringing the same amount of light to the sensor but due to differences in focal length and lens design they are not quite that accurate. To fully understand the relationship of f-stops visit our new intro course where I’ve covered it in depth.

  5. Ha-ha! I wonder if Urs is always in the habit to have a model taking her pants or a skirt off before he decides to take a few close-up, chest-level portrait shots.

      1. That’s what I mean. I am curious whether he says something like: “I’d like to make a portrait of your face, dear. But can you undress first, please!”

        1. It is odd. It’s a serious photoshoot but there’s no logic or benefit from shooting a girl in her pants. C’mon Urs it’s 2020, not good for us photographer’s image.

  6. Karl, lets say you were on location and a room with non white walls, say a neutral colour like magnolia. Would the strobes overpower the colour or would you pick up colour casts? If so could you set a custom WB to overcome that? Did I hear this would set up work for group shots?
    Also where can we suggest topics we like to learn if not covered yet?

    1. Hi Chris, no you would get a colour cast if you bounced of coloured walls. In some instances if the colour is subtle then you could correct in post. However the better thing would be to put some white panels or fabric in front of the walls. You could only use this set up for group shots if you also bounced it into the wall behind you that was facing the group.

    1. Hi April, just basic carpentry. Build a stud wall and then panel it and paint it. We also put it on wheels.

Leave a Comment