Simple Corporate Portraits: A Lighting Tutorial

In this photography lighting lesson, you will not only learn how to light corporate portraits but you will also learn some corporate portrait photography tips. This lesson is a simple look at how to shoot very basic corporate portraits. When you take a job on to shoot an office full of people where do you start? What background do we need? Where do we shoot? What is the schedule and how do I light everyone? These are a few of the questions that are answered in this look at shooting simple corporate portraits. Our Thanks to Milam, Knecht & Warner, LLP – Glendale, CA. 

In this photography lighting lesson, you will learn how to photography simple corporate portraits like these:

Sample of Corporate Portraits from the Photography Lighting Tutorial

Here is a review of the corporate portraits and the lighting we used to photograph the images.

Lighting Progession of Photographs for Corporate Portraits

1. First, we set up a Dynalite pack and a studio head with a large Photoflex soft box and grid. The grid will keep the lights off the surrounding walls and ceiling. Without the grid, there will be a bounce light that will overfill the subject and cause the background to be too bright. The Dynalite studio heads create a soft light that I can control better with a grid. Because her face is lit and not the background, I know that I am off to a good start.

2. For the rim light, I add a small Photoflex octodome with a grid. I choose the small octodome because its quality of light–not its size. To understand this concept better, you can watch a lesson about the different sizes of soft boxes and their quality of light here.

3. For the background, I added a Dynalite travel head with a 20 degree grid. This light will separate each person from the background. This means that you will need to adjust this light for each person that you photograph.

4. Finally, I add an umbrella light behind the camera to fill in the heavy shadows.This light will bounce all over the room, but it will not overfill the subject nor wash out the background.

Here is the setup of these lights:

Photography Lights from Corporate Portraits


  1. Chad says

    I struggle with light ratios. Like what should the key light be? Because I think everything goes off of the key light correct? How was this and how do you determine?

    • says

      There is no standard ratio of Key light to fill. It is a mater of what you like. Having said that most people portraits are set at a 1:2 ratio or 1:4 ratio. The best Ratio is based on what pleasing to you and appropriate for your subject. Both of these criteria are subjective and up to your creative interpretation. . A one to two ration is more open and less moody then say a one to eight ratio.

  2. says

    Hi J P,
    Loved this tutorial, Very easy to follow and understand. My only question is what flash sync are you using? Do you use the full 1/250 o a slower sync speed, and why do you use the speed you do?
    Again, great work.


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