If you do not have any lighting equipment for shooting portraits, we have complied a complete list of every you need to get started from lights, stands, umbrellas, and light boxes, to backgrounds, grids, wireless triggers, and more. You can pick and choose whatever  you need.

(The following are recommendations only and do not imply any endorsement by Great Photography Courses, any guaranteed price, availability of products, any guarantee regarding quality of listed products, or guarantee any warranty of listed products.)


Please know that that you do not need all this gear. These are just many options for kits and any accessories you may want. Listed below is a cheap kit and a more expensive and there is a quality difference as the more expensive are nicer lights. But the low cost option works just fine as well. These kits are not totally complete so I added a few items not in the kits that you will need.

You need three lights: mono lights or studio power pack. I recommend mono lights as the best option. You need light stands for each light but you will also see that I mention more lights stands and these are used for holding up backgrounds, clamping a reflector to and any use where you need to hold something up in some position. I have 10 lights and 15 lights stands of various sizes.

You will need a few white umbrellas and light boxes and they are mentioned below. Grids are a valuable tool for focusing light like a spotlight and they are mentioned. A lighting boom allows you to place a light above a subject and out of sight. You can get a background kit to hold your background or you can make a homemade one like I do using two large lights stands, to V clamps, and a metal pole from Home Depot.

I include reflectors but you can also use art board from the art supply store in sizes like 3’x4’ white and black. You might want carrying case to put all the lights in and another for all your light stands and umbrellas. I also mention a cart for hauling all this stuff around is you work on location.


***Low Budget:


This Impact Kit from B&H is low budget and includes most everything:

2 400ws monolights

1 100ws monolight

A radio sender and receiver wireless trigger to fire the flash

2 10’ stands

1 background light stand

1 24 x24 light box

2 umbrellas

Carry case

B&H part # for the above: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/640431-REG/Impact_VSLCD400_3KI_VS_LCD_400W_3_Light_Backlight.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120

Also needed with this kit:

You can have a low budget approach with one grid and clamp it to your reflector with a spring clamp. (I have done this a million times) or a complete kit with reflector.

Single 7” grid http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/588797-REG/Impact_8101200_7_Grid_10_Degree.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120


Complete kit: Bowens grid reflector and 2 grid spots http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/187034-REG/Bowens_BW_1865_Reflector_with_Grid_Set.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120

Larger Light Box: 36 x 48” http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/138243-REG/Photoflex_XT_3LLD293_LiteDome_Q39_Large_Softbox.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120

***Higher Budget:


This Kit is higher budget and includes most everything:

3 320 ws mono lights

3 light stands

2 umbrellas

Sync cord

Carry case

B&H kit #  http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/245821-REG/Photogenic_StudioMax_III_3_Light_Portrait.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120

This kit also needs:

Large Light Box 36 x 48” http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/138243-REG/Photoflex_XT_3LLD293_LiteDome_Q39_Large_Softbox.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120

Speed ring to attach light box http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/404320-REG/Photogenic_907577_Speed_Ring_for_Photogenic.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120


Complete kit:  http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/42057-REG/Photogenic_918887_Honeycomb_Grid_Set.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120

I also use SKB Hard Golf cases from the golf shop and it holds all stands, boxes, umbrellas.



2 more large light stands for your background support if you want to use my home made system shown in lesson 1. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/itemIncDetails.jsp/sku/253069/is/REG/type/acc/BI/7592/KBID/8120


This complete background kit http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/itemIncDetails.jsp/sku/437786/is/REG/type/acc/BI/7592/KBID/8120


Manfrotto Portable Light Boom http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/546560-REG/Manfrotto_024B_Boom_Assembly_Black.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120


Manfrotto Super Boom http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/546565-REG/Manfrotto_025BS_025BS_Super_Boom_with.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120



1 SEAMLESS paper background WHITE http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/45468-REG/Savage_1_12_107_x_12yds_Background.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120

1 SEAMLESS paper background GREY  http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/486246-REG/Savage_14_50_107_x_50yds_Background.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120



If you want a recommendation for a painterly canvas background I recommend something like this one as it is neutral in color. There are many options available. You just don’t want the colors to be over bearing.




You need color correction gels for each light so that means one of these kits for each monolight you have.




A flash meter to measure your strobe exposures.

Sekonic 308 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/368226-REG/Sekonic_401_309_L_308S_Flashmate_Light_Meter.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120


Pocket Wizard Plus III


You need at least two: one on camera, one on a strobe. If you have more strobes they should have a photo cell in them that will see the first strobe fire and they will fire. You can have a PW on every strobe if you wish.


Sandbags to hold your light stands from falling or blowing over. I have 8 of these.



Multi Cart for hauling your gear around



Interfit Reflector panels



Manfrotto Extra Heavy Duty 12’ Light Stand



Manfrotto Medium Stand 9’



Manfrotto Short/Background Stand



Short 2’ – 6’ Light Stand




Check these kits to see if they contain wireless triggers which send a signal to the strobes to fire when shutter is pressed. If you do not buy the kits but need triggers here are options:


Pocket Wizard Plus III


You need at least two: one on camera, one on a strobe. If you have more strobes they should have a photo cell in them that will see the first strobe fire and they will fire. You can have a PW on every strobe if you wish.

Note: If you plan to incorporate a Flash unit like a Canon 580EXII or Nikon SB800/700, etc. into your lighting setup you need a PW for that as well AND appropriate cables to connect. If you use the SB900 it has SU4 mode built in and no PW is needed.

Photoflex http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/744104-REG/Photoflex_AC_FLFIRETRGR_FlashFire_Wireless_Trigger.html/BI/7592/KBID/8120

Photoflex is a very reputable company and this flash trigger is a lower cost alternative that fires flash and strobes. Make sure you order correct cables.