Nine Types of Lighting: A Simple Guide to Lighting Equipment

Jan 04, 2024

Photography is all about capturing light, and the right lighting equipment can make a huge difference in your photos. Whether you're shooting a portrait, a product, or a landscape, understanding the various types of lighting equipment and their uses can elevate your photography. Let's break down some common types of lighting gear in simple terms, along with examples of when and where you might use each one.


LED Lighting

LED lights are like the energy savers of the photography world. They don't heat up much, which is great if you're shooting for a long time. They're perfect for product photography or for videos, especially if you're working in a small space.

Example Use: Shooting a makeup tutorial video or photographing small products for an online store.



Speedlights are portable flashes that you can easily carry around. They're not super powerful but are great for adding a bit of extra light. They're perfect for outdoor shoots where you just need a little extra light.

Example Use: Adding a sparkle to someone's eyes in an outdoor portrait or brightening up a dimly lit room at an event.



Think of softboxes as the softeners. They spread light evenly and softly, reducing harsh shadows. They're great for portraits or product photography where you want gentle, flattering light.

Example Use: Taking a headshot for a LinkedIn profile or shooting pictures of food for a menu.



Umbrellas in photography bounce light around to make it softer and more even. They're super easy to use and set up, making them a good choice for beginners.

Example Use: Taking family portraits in a studio or photographing a small gathering indoors.


Beauty Dishes

Beauty dishes are special for making skin look amazing. They're used a lot in fashion and beauty photography. They create a focused light that's soft but also enhances facial features.

Example Use: Shooting a model for a fashion magazine or doing a makeup artist's portfolio.


Tungsten Lights

These are the old-school, bright lights that get really hot. They give off a warm light, which is great for creating a cozy, inviting atmosphere in your photos. However, they use a lot of energy and can make things quite warm.

Example Use: Taking indoor portraits that need a warm, homey feel or shooting a scene that requires a sunset-like ambiance.



Diffusers spread the light out so it's not so direct and harsh. They're like a mediator between your light source and your subject. You can use them with other lighting equipment to get a softer effect.

Example Use: Softening the light on a sunny day for an outdoor shoot or reducing glare in a product photo.


Bounce Flash

Bounce flash is a technique rather than a separate equipment type. You use a speedlight or flash and bounce the light off a surface like a wall or ceiling. This creates a more natural, softer light compared to direct flash. It's great for indoor photography where you want to avoid harsh shadows and bright spots.

Example Use: Photographing a small indoor event like a birthday party or creating a natural lighting effect in a portrait session inside a room.


Strip Boxes

Similar to a softbox but much narrower, a strip box provides a controlled, elongated beam of light. It's perfect for creating dramatic effects, highlighting specific parts of a subject, or adding rim lights in portrait photography.

Example Use: Accentuating the curves of a car in automotive photography or adding a dramatic edge light to a model in a fashion shoot.

Understanding these basic types of lighting equipment and their applications can significantly improve the quality of your photography. Remember, the right lighting can turn a good photo into a great one!

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