How to Set Up Umbrella Lighting for Photography

How to Set Up Umbrella Lighting for Photography

A good enough lighting system is one of the main factors for great enough photography. There are several lighting systems for photographers but today, I’ll specifically discuss how to set up umbrella lighting for photography.

But why Umbrella lighting? How can it help? Or why I should use it?

Before going directly into these questions, let’s have some talk regarding the importance of lighting for your business photography.

can we see anything with closed eyes? No, and photography is also the same. It’s nothing without proper lighting. no matter if you own a good camera or a good studio but without lighting, your camera or studio is zero.

According to a study by Shawacademy, Lighting is the key factor in the way of a successful image. Your lighting system not only determines darkness or brightness but also mood, tone, and the relevant atmosphere.

Plenty of bloggers of photography claim that a proper lighting system should be the first factor we should focus on.

Therefore, managing and manipulation of lighting should not be neglected at all.

And don’t worry cause today in this article I will show you the revolutionary way of lighting: setting up a photography umbrella in your studio.

What Is Photography Umbrella Lighting?

What Is Photography Umbrella Lighting

Umbrella lighting is widely used nowadays. It’s the best cost-effective, advanced, and compact source of light, and Setting Up an Umbrella Lighting system in your studio or room for Photography is easy!

That means you can now set up a lighting system at an affordable cost and take awesome photos.

But since there are a variety of sizes, colors, and methods of umbrella photography it might look a little frustrating initially for you to successfully set up the umbrella lighting.

But I already mentioned you will not have to worry because I’m here and I’ll show you every detail of umbrella photography that you should know. I’ll show you every step you need to take and the exact road of umbrella lighting with an in-depth discussion.

Umbrella works exactly like a modifier lighting form. Here the umbrellas fall in a diffusion group. Diffusion is the ultimate source of lighting.

and all of the diffuses create a comparatively bigger light source that easily spreads the light where you need. It spreads the light across a large area of your room and makes the light infirm and for that the light becomes smooth and perfect.

Umbrella lighting creates a great nourishing conversion between brightness and darkness.

Sometimes it is normal that you may don’t want dark shadow or harsh light but Umbrella can perform here in your images as the strobe does.

I found umbrella lighting the most effective in both cases of portrait and studio photography.

What Is Photography Umbrella Lighting 2

When it comes to portrait photography, it happens that if you use strobe or camera flash directly it breaks the light and looks ugly.

But on the other contrary, the light of the umbrella is flexible which spreads and helps to soothe the light located on the model’s skin.

Types of Photography umbrella lighting

There are different types of diffusers available for buying when it comes to umbrella lighting.

white or black, or any other color or both silver or white lining together — This kind of diffusers are usually used. In general, the white one is famous to be used for casual shoot through image capturing, and the black one or combined color is normally used when you want reflective light for the photoshoot.

Another fact: The question may arise in your mind that what’s the difference between photography umbrella vs normal softbox?

The softbox we usually use is often easier to control the falling of the light, which means you can direct the softbox easily whereas an umbrella lighting system is easier to set up and the big fact is it’s affordable and it can do the same things as a softbox.

I’ll discuss later the exact differences in this article, keep reading.

What happens in a shoot-through umbrella is the umbrellas can easily diffuse the light and spread it far. Because of the bounce made by the strobe or flash, the umbrella can spread the light.

Types of Photography umbrella lighting

But reflective lighting is flexible, when you want reflective lighting, the umbrella keeps the brightness from the power a little better but still, it can’t allow light all over the studio like a shoot-through usually does.

The third type of umbrella allows you to convert your umbrella to both with ease and whenever you want. That means you can anytime use either reflective image for model photography or shoot through image capturing for products according to your needs.

There are also variations available in the size of the umbrella. the larger the umbrella is the stronger the light will be. How the parachute works affect the size and use of lighting.

How to use a photography Umbrella?

So you have finally thought and want to Set Up Umbrella Lighting for Photography?

Umbrella lighting is a modern and advanced way of the lighting system. It’s nowadays widely used because of both cost-effectiveness and affordability. But if you are a newbie you may face some silly issues with setting up your Umbrella lighting on your studio

So, now let’s move onto the part of setting the umbrella lighting up on your studio

Mount the Umbrella to the Strobe or Flash

Mounting is the first step to take for setting up your photography lighting effectively. Whether you want smooth and seamless soft light on a larger area or a small size of light in a specific area, it all depends on your way of mounting firstly.

There are two ways for mounting an umbrella: You can either use a camera flash or a larger strobe for mounting.

No matter which method you need but you will need a firm umbrella holder. Studio strobes are already available with a built-in small hole for inserting an umbrella with a knob beside it to handle the umbrella. You just have to insert the umbrella into the hole and tighten it with the provided knob.

On the contrary, you may want to use a camera flash but for that, you will need a flash bracket.

The flash bracket is used just like a strobe where you will get a hole and a knob.

Be careful of the distance between the strobe or flashlight and the parachute. When you place the strobe or flash near the shading of the umbrella, the light will be too closer to fill the entire shading with perfect brightness.

Place the Umbrella to Light the Subject

Everyone wants the perfect balance of proper shadow and light with perfection as it can be effective here.

I already showed you how easy it is to Set Up Umbrella Lighting for Photography.

But placing the umbrella with accuracy is still a huge matter.

I have seen beginners ending up placing the umbrella in the wrong way. Such as if you point the article away from the subject that you are shooting you won’t get the creative look you are looking for unless the location of the umbrella is accurate.

but this is not easy because of the variety of umbrella lighting.

In a photoshoot with umbrella lighting, if you point the umbrella directly to the model or product you will get a harsh and strong light which seems bad because the light goes straightly through the umbrella.

whereas a reflective type of umbrella throws the light far away by a bounce of lighting which creates in-depth, smooth, light with good shadow.

There are two different and effective ways to place your umbrellas in the perfect location during photography lighting. if you prefer a shoot-through photography umbrella you point the umbrella to your camera flash or strobe and point it to your subject.

And when you want reflective photography umbrella lighting, pointing the umbrella towards the subject would be better where the strobe will point the umbrella.

Continue to Light the Rest of the Image

Before we directly go into the part of either light ensure the mounting of the umbrella is right or not first determine exactly which type of photography lighting you need that day.

Using an umbrella is not kind of different from using a lamp. Adjusting the light angle perfectly with the subject creates different artistic lighting patterns. These are split colors, loop, butterfly, and Rembrandt.

Bring the light closer to the subject to get a softer effect and the more you move further the more you will get harder light.

Remember that the light height can be changed too! The more height the more dimensions and the less height make still more light.

Use Multi-Light Setups

For portrait or small area photography, one lighting setup is sometimes okay. But if you do group photography or your studio is bigger then you need multiple photography lighting setups.

But how to setup multiple lighting?

You can simply use the umbrella on your main light that will perform like a modifier or you can also use the umbrellas for fill light.

Which Photography Umbrella To Choose?

The reason behind the good usability of umbrella lighting is the satisfying affordability of it. It’s the cheapest method among many for quality light.

I hope you are now clarified about how to Set Up Umbrella Lighting for Photography but choosing the type of umbrella is necessary before you successfully set up umbrella lighting for photography.

It has become a common ingredient to have in the first section of the list to get for your startup photography studio along with the strobe and camera flash.

So, as a beginner, you should know all the use of the umbrella.

After knowing the usability of umbrella lighting you will be able to choose a suitable one yourself.

There are two types of umbrella lighting for photography but there’s a third one available which is the combination of the first two.

The first type of umbrella is used on shoot-through photographs where the umbrella passes all the light and spreads the light around your shooting object. This type of umbrella is sometimes significant when you do photography with a group of people or in a studio.

The second type of umbrella is fully black on the outer part and silver in the inner part. It’s also called a reflective umbrella. It mainly reverses all of the lights to one place and it doesn’t cover a wider area.

Set up your photography studio

Setting up your photography studio is the next step you have to take. I think it’s easy enough but still, I would like to share some tips.

Clean your studio well so that it’s free of everything but keep the necessary components in the kit box and have it around you.

Gather all the equipment including a camera, tripod, lenses, props, and everything in one place.

Then create the backdrops, assemble the backdrop frame, and add the backdrop. Keep in mind that placing the backdrop should be exactly according to your needs.

Set up your lighting and reflector and get the space ready for your model. The place you chose for the model should match the subject of your product.

Also, make sure that your group of people including the director, cameraman, and other necessary people are ready.

With a few basics, you are being able to create more flattering, softer, and awesome light in your images with a simple accessory.

How to use umbrella lights for product photography

How to use umbrella lights for product photography

Though the lighting product isn’t hard, it does require some special steps and basic knowledge to acquire the art.

Using umbrella lights for products is kinda much the same as others but without some differences.

You are not done when you have successfully Set Up Umbrella Lighting for Photography, you still have work to optimize your lighting for products specifically.

Well, in the case of product photography, applying umbrella lighting a little creatively would be better.

When it comes to model photography, it might be already easier for you to set up umbrellas because models can pose, move, and act with flexibility whereas a product has to be static.

You don’t have to move the lighting again and again when you shoot a model but for products, the lighting might have to be changed often because every time you can’t change the direction of the umbrella — it’s a hassle!

That’s why from the very beginning if you are intending to shoot products you should keep the place optimized earlier.

And in this case, a lighting system like the below can be helpful.

Photography Umbrella vs Softbox

Softbox and umbrella both are quite the same in features. All they do is providing light and shadow when needed. Then what’re the exact differences between them?


When we compare both the softbox and umbrella we say they are portable enough but comparatively the softbox kit is larger and not portable so much whereas the umbrella kit is smaller. The softbox is made of extensive features for what it is larger. Small flat-folding softboxes are easy to bring in and do not take up extra space.


This is true that small softboxes are more lightweight than larger ones. On the other hand, umbrellas are very lightweight so you don’t gotta think about potential carrying issues.

Ease of Use

Softbox is easy to use where you just need to point and shoot. Umbrellas though are the same, it has less accuracy. The setup time for softbox is longer but it lasts longer also. The white material of the softbox stays smooth.


Softboxes are often more expensive compared to photography umbrellas but softbox values your money. It provides a more professional way of working and assists the lighting setup greatly.

Small softboxes are almost the same price as umbrellas but bigger ones cost almost three times more than an umbrella.

And actually, there is no real comparison between softbox vs umbrella because the choice depends on you, your budget, and the atmosphere.

Final Thoughts

Despite a few drawbacks, initially to start photography umbrellas are great to take into consideration.

If you don’t own a luxury photography studio or if you aren’t a famous photographer, in straightforward words, if you are a newbie or fresher photographer, I recommend you to choose umbrella lighting.

It can benefit you in all photography cases equally as a softbox or other lighting systems. Just the exception is that photography umbrellas are affordable.

But I found fun using umbrellas too! And I think it’s perfect for me because I’m a journey lover person and I often have to move on to other areas.

Leave a Comment