What is the minimum power of strobe necessary for portrait photography?


I am interested in starting to do portrait photography and am curious about the minimum power for strobes. I would plan to initially use two lights with a black muslin background. Since I am not a professional, price is important and that obviously goes up as the power increases.




250′s are perfectly adequate to start with.


Unfortunately there is so much more to consider than simply out put power…there is recycle time, adjustable settings ect ect. However the out put power will really depend on how far your lights are from your subject, and whether you’ll be using any light modifiers, such as a soft box, umbrella’s, or grid to diffuse the light a bit. Unless you’ll be shooting direct hard lit portraits all day, with the lights right on top of your subjects, 600ws minimum. Read up on lighting and you’ll find that light falls off in an exponential manner, in other words two feet from the light you’ll get full power, 8ft from the light you’ll be down to less than half of full output. Plus you will want to dial one down to create a ratio, further reducing the output of one of your lights…you’ll have to move it closer to the subject to compensate. Also in portraiture, you don’t want to have gear or the camera in the subjects face, you leave a comfort zone and you get better results. Are you planning on lighting your background ? I would strongly suggest it…and you’ll need at least one more light, so make that three. Sounds like you need to do a bit more planning before hanging your shingle as a portrait studio, and buy some decent lights…I’ve seen several questions about the JUNK on E-Bay selling for $ 250. Try to remember you get exactly what you pay for whit photographic equipment. It’s not fun trying to explain an equipment failure to a paying customer , so go with the quality lights. Yeah they’re expensive, but it’s part of the biz.

Good Luck in your venture…

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