This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links it means we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn More

How To Use A Softbox (A Detailed Guide)

Have you ever seen those special pretty soft lights that are used in professional studios? Well, that’s what softboxes are, only not that simple. Let me get this article started with a better explanation of what softboxes are!

A softbox is a light modifier that brings the light from an artificial source into a box and it releases it through a diffusion layer. They are used by many photographers as a light source in their studios. Simply put, their job is to minimize harsh shadows, that may appear during a photography session!

In this article, I will try to respond to the most important question about softboxes: “How to use a Softbox?”

Softbox Lighting

Before I explain how to use a softbox, I thought about giving some extra information regarding softbox photography or say softbox light.

If you find yourself lacking a light source, softbox photography is the solution to that.

We all know how hard is to fill light in dark ambient, and lack of light will also highly affect the quality of our photos, that’s when softbox lighting kicks in.

By using a softbox you will get yourself a lighting setup that will fend off harsh shadows by offering us a flattering light that will make our pictures look really good and professional.

Moreover, you can also use a softbox as a secondary light to your ambient light, to reduce the contest with the soft light of the softbox and give a better appeal to your pictures.

So yeah while softbox can be used as a key light for softbox photography you can use it as a secondary one.

How to use a Softbox?/ Detailed Information

In order to use a softbox in a proper way there are a few things that you need to consider:

  • Placement – As for the placement of a softbox, I would like to mention that they are versatile in many ways. They can be used indoors, outdoors, for portraiture, and for videos as well. In order to get soft light, the only thing that you should do is to place it as closely as possible at the subject that is being photographed. That means that once it is close to the subject it will eliminate most of the shadows.
  • Angle – The angle at which you choose to use your softbox is also an important thing that you need to look at. Especially during portrait photography. Depending on the angle that it works at it will deliver or provide the most admiring light.
  • Light Output – Every softbox differs from one another. That is because of the diffusion and the output of the light. It as well is dependent on how powerful the light that you are using is. When the light is stronger you will definitely have more flexibility.

Some other things that are important on how to use a softbox are size and shape. Regarding the size of a softbox, you will find a lot of them coming in different sizes, and the size fully depends on how big the place that you are doing the photo shoot is. The bigger the place the bigger the softbox; the smaller the place the smaller the softbox.

When it comes to shaping, on the other hand, softboxes come in different shapes: rectangular; which are better for vertical portrait, square; also used during portrait photography while on smaller studios, and the octagonal shape of softboxes; which is ideal when used for fashion photography mostly.

Umbrella & Soft Lighting

Another well-liked technique to diffuse light is the use of photographic umbrellas. They do have a tendency to cast light over a wider, roughly 180-degree area.

Between the two lighting setups, an umbrella produces larger, diffused illumination that is unregulated and uncontained and is comparable to outside light.

Softboxes, on the other hand, provide direct, regulated lighting that is similar to sunshine coming in through a window.

For softer shadows, an umbrella will work just great but when it comes to hard lighting the softbox remains superior.

Final Thoughts/Conclusion

As you can see, using a softbox is one of the easiest things that you can do. Of course, if you consider the three most important things that I mentioned above. They are pretty easy to be used and when used you will notice that they help you bring the best out of the photography that you are taking.

I hope this article will really help you use softboxes, and also, you can check out our articles regarding the best softbox for product photography, or the best softbox for food photography. Have fun while using one!

Alex Hampsink