High-Key Studio Setup for Full Length Portraits

Hi Friends,

Inspired by a photography blog somewhere, I’ve been working on perfecting my high-key studio set – expanding to be able to do full length / full body portraits.

I’ve never really liked the seamless paper rolls — specifically, I’ve never liked having my subjects stand on them.  They get dirty, they tear, and I generally don’t care for the shadows. I read somewhere recently about using a reflective material for the “floor” of the set.  Tried it out last night, and it works great!

A few of Conner in “geek” attire, as he put it:

And a couple in BDUs:

And a few of Cat:

The setup is pretty simple: white seamless paper tucked under a 4×8 sheet of “Thrifty White Tileboard” from Home Depot.  Background is lit with a pair of studio heads at about 1/2 power.  Key light is a Nikon SB800 in a Bowens beauty dish reflector.  Shot with Nikon D2x / 24-70 f/2.8 combo.  Had to set it up on my driveway to get the height necessary for standing full-length portraits.  (Please pay no attention to the messy garage):

I’m diggin’ the look and have great plans in store for this setup!

Thanks for dropping by!


Share and Enjoy!

11 thoughts on “High-Key Studio Setup for Full Length Portraits

  • Excellent work Jon. I personally love High Key and am continually trying different lighting set ups, mainly because at the moment the majority of my work is for catalogue type products, and the client just want straight shots on a white back ground.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and images.


    • Excellent, Mark! And I realized that I had seen your blog recently. I must have clicked over to it from a previous comment here on my blog. Cool stuff!


  • I just found your site this morning and I love it! Could you tell me what kind of boom stand and arm you’re using. I’m looking for recommendations on something for my sb900 and softlighterII. Thanking you in advance 🙂

  • great stuff man! i havent had the time to try it out yet, but hopefuly you can answer my question in advance. Can i achieve similar high key results using 2 flashes (SB900 and SB600)?

    thanks in advance!

    • Thanks! You can certainly do high key headshots with the two Speedlights you’ve mentioned – one as a key, and one aimed at your white background. It would be difficult to do full length high key portraiture with just those two lights, though. You’d be hard-pressed to throw enough light on the background for a full length portrait. I blast it out with studio lights for the background to ensure full, even coverage.

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