How To Use A Softbox: Use, Type & Setup for photographers

Updated on November 1, 2022 in Photography by

How To Use A Softbox: Use, Type & Setup for photographers

Softbox in photography is like paint in your painting. How you use them can make or break a scene. But we are here not to discuss comparisons. We are here to discuss How To Use A Softbox?

No doubt they are an essential part of photography and can be used for various purposes. I highly recommend you read our photography lighting setup guide, where we discussed various types of lighting and their use.

This guide will advance on one topic from that guide, which is Softbox in photography, its uses, types, and setups. Without any more delay, let us get started with our guide on how to use Softbox in photography like a professional.

What is Softbox?

Softbox is a type of lighting modifier used during photography to diffuse the direct light to avoid hard light and shadows in the photo. In simple words, Softbox is a type of lighting equipment that is used for creating soft lighting in photography and minimizing the shadows.

Generally, there are two ways to diffuse direct lighting. Keep the source of light at a distance, or make it pass through a translucent sheet.

The best example here for keeping the source of light at a distance is the natural light from the sun. But since the distance is not always the convenient way, we can make a good source of light pass through a white translucent sheet for soft lighting.

Why white and translucent?

Because a white surface ensures that the color of light doesn’t affect the color of the subject during photography. Translucent because we want the light to pass through it but with some resistance.

The translucent sheet stops and spreads the light before letting it pass. As a result, we get bright, soft light on our subject that creates soft and pleasant shadows when we use a Softbox in photography.

Types of Softbox in photography

One thing before we learn about the types of Softbox in photography is that you can find each type in various sizes. Here, I am sharing the types based on the shapes and use.

There are 3 main types of Softbox in photography:


Square softbox in photography is the most common lighting accessory, that is known for its versatility. You can use it as your main light, background, overhead light, or fill light.

It shall be the first external lighting for a photographer, as it allows you to carry out various setups and work very easily.


Strip softbox in photography is a long rectangle-shaped light used for longer subjects. They are mainly used during model photography, as it lights up the whole model from head to toe. In the absence of a strip softbox, you’ll have two lights for proper lighting from one side.

It is just a lot of hassle and wires to deal with. So, if you are mostly doing model photography, portrait photography, fashion, or ghost mannequin photography Strip softbox would be a great addition.


Octabox is generally bought for its oversized benefits. They act as a great main light or the overhead light during photography. Because of the eight sides, they spread the light very effectively and brighten up the whole room at once.

Setups To Use A Softbox Lighting Photography

Now that we are aware of the types of the softbox, let us focus on the setups to use a Softbox in your photography.

1. 45 Degree Setup

We place the Softbox at a 45-degree angle from the model or the subject. This will help in ensuring the light falls naturally, balances the light on both sides, and even brights up the background.

You can use a softbox lighting 45-degree setup for capturing headshots, 3-quarter shots, and even full-body shots depending on the type of lighting you choose.

2. Flat Light & Reflector

Flat light and reflector setup is the one that is mainly used in high-end portrait and headshot photography.

The softbox is placed right above and behind the camera, facing toward the model. Below and a little ahead of the camera is the reflector that illuminates the model’s face from below.

Here, make sure you are using a larger softbox so that your model is surrounded by good light from all sides. Here, if you want more light from the below, you can use a softbox smaller in size, instead of a reflector.

3. Separation Light

Sometimes you’ll want to make your model or the subject stand out from the background, Here you can use softbox lighting and place behind. Place the subject a little ahead of the background and from an angle, but light on the back of the model or subject.

You’ll need another softbox in the front and this softbox setup will help you create a professional photography separation between the elements of your photos.

4. Dual Light

The Dual light setup is mainly used for high-quality portrait and fashion photography. You have to take two soft boxes and place them directly in front of the model. Now, we make a little space between both these lights for our camera and capture the shots.

The intensity of both lights can be the same or different, depending on how you are looking to make your photos look.

Bonus Read

When you use softbox in photography, you’ll mostly be experimenting with your scenes. From your setup to different light intensities. Everything that you do and learn will help you become a better and more professional photographer.

Here, learning about various types of equipment helps you fast-track your journey. Now, you can also learn about the difference between Softbox lighting and umbrella lighting. Something that creates confusion among many beginners.

Along with learning how to use a softbox light, you should also learn how to use a strobe light.

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