Using a Mini Softbox for Awesome Outdoor Portraits

Rating: 2.64 based on 14 Ratings
  By Jennifer Berube
Using a Mini Softbox for Awesome Outdoor Portraits

Shooting portraits in a studio can be great, but outdoor portaiture with natural light is just better. The problem is that when you try and take photos outside, the light doesn’t always cooperate, and you need to take matters into your own hands. This is where something like a mini softbox can really help you out when you need it.

A softbox is just a small light, used primarily in studios, but which can be adapted for use outside. The mini variety tends to be best in this regard since it is easy to transport around.

When you can control the lighting of the outdoors with a mini softbox, you can drastically change how your photos look. Subjects can really stand out, while also getting the natural setting around them. It is the best of both worlds. You have the studio and the outdoors, together in perfect harmony.

The Advantages

So, why use a mini softbox for this? Why not use some other type of lighting? Why not use umbrella lights? There are several reasons why a mini softbox is just best for this situation.

The biggest advantage is the fact that these boxes are small and highly portable. You don’t need to haul your studio around, you just need to take a small box with you and you will get all the light you need. You can also use a light shaping tool to get the lighting that you want in your portraits outside. You can add definition through the use of shadows, or remove shadows to create a clean and elegant look on the subject.

Why Not Regular Softboxes?

You may be asking why you can’t just use a regular-sized softbox, the type you use in the studio. After all, it is not like they are huge or anything. Well, you get all the features of the regular softbox, in a mini softbox, but without the extra space. So, there is no reason to add extra work for yourself in lugging around a large softbox.

How to Do It

Now that you know you should use a mini softbox, how do you go about using it?  It is actually very easy to use. The main thing to remember is that as you move the subject around for the photos, you may have to change the lighting depending on cloud cover, the position of the sun and more. This will allow you to get the right light for your subject with the softbox.

Don’t be afraid to try out multiple locations for your shoot as well. The light is going to be different everywhere and you may find a great spot for your photos just by random. Most mini softboxes run on batteries since you won’t be located near an outlet. Make sure that you always have batteries on hand so you don’t lose your lighting opportunities with the softbox.

Use the Attachments

When you are taking your mini softbox out, make sure you use your attachments to get the most out of the mini softbox. There are many attachments that will be useful to you depending on the lighting conditions outside, and the needs you have as a photographer. These attachments, like diffusers, can be carried around easily by you and often come as part of the mini softbox. These diffusers will create many lighting effects for you, from creating very soft light to compliment the sunlight, or sharper and more focused light to create the shadows that you want.

One of the best types of diffusers to keep in mind is the gold-banded diffuser. This diffuser attaches with Velcro to the softbox itself and creates really beautiful and warm images in the outdoors. It can work great if you want a natural look on the subject but don’t want to add too much light. It is also very effective at creating the golden hour light, where the sun is setting.

As a photographer, you want to get the most out of your photos, your light, and your subjects. You can leave everything to chance and allow Mother Nature to dictate the lighting, but what if it is a cloudy day and you want golden light on the subject? If that is the case, then you need to take matters into your own hands and get a mini softbox. It is highly portable. It is easy to use, and it will ensure that you get the most out of your pictures.

For incredible portraits, you should always take things one extra step. Mother Nature can be great for her lighting, but there is nothing wrong with a bit of a helping hand from technology. The mini softbox can do that for you.

Rating: 2.64 based on 14 Ratings
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Before I became Editor-in-Chief of PHLEARN Magazine, I spent over five years specializing in Photography Writing and contributed articles regularly to sites like PictureCorrect, Sleeklens, and PhotoWorkout. Photography has always been a huge passion of mine; I may not be professionally trained in the art, but the knowledge and experience I have gained writing about photography techniques, interviewing some of the biggest and most inspiring photographers out there, and covering industry events has been invaluable!

Comments (1)

  1. Crystal Guest

    Do you have a link to an example of such a mini-softbox with attachments? I’ve used a regular softbox but am curious to learn more!