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I'm having a traditional korean Doljanchi birthday party where we'll set up a photo area around a traditional banquet table like setup for guests to take photos with the decorations and the baby.

A setup that is something similar to this: enter image description here enter image description here

There might also be a few action shots

enter image description here

What kind of lighting should I buy and how should I set it up? I'm a beginner photographer and it will be in a smallish interior room with high ceilings and no windows. I will be on a budget so will be looking for the biggest bang for the buck.

I saw these 2 on Amazon

Umbrella Lights

Diffuser Lights

Are either of these 2 lighting kits recommended for what I'd be doing? Should I do an over the shoulder setup for the light source?

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Continuous lighting, like the ones that you linked, comes with some very large trade-offs. They can end up generating a lot of heat (though it looks like your proposed kits get around this by using CFL's), and the light output is low - you may be better off than not having lights but still far from where you want to be from an exposure perspective.

In all of the reviews for both of those sets, the light sources are placed very close to the subject. I don't think this is being done for artistic reasons regarding light falloff but because these lights just aren't that bright. You're trying to light a much larger space!

I found this kit available in New York: https://www.csirentals.com/integra-pro-plus-freemask-3-light-kit/ for not too much money.

I would recommend that or similar, but the point is, if you cannot afford to do the job right by buying the equipment or simply won't have much use for that equipment after a gig, then rent!

Should I do an over the shoulder setup for the light source?

Depends on how you want the shot to look. If you'll be running around the room from all different angles and trying to get fast action shots, then you need to set up the strobe to hit the room such that you can get those shots or carry the strobe with you. If carrying it with you, get it as far off the camera as you can: brackets are made for this. Even better if you can get an assistant to put the light on a monopod and hold it up for you.

See also: How to light indoor sports (same concept as what you're doing) and Use the ceiling to bounce (you say it's high...but is it too high is the question).

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  • That rental kit seems pretty legit and makes sense for the weekend. I see it has some radio receivers in the package - do I need to get some sort of remote transmitter for my Nikon to fire those off in sync? – MonkeyBonkey Aug 2 '19 at 23:00
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    @MonkeyBonkey yes, the trigger goes on your hot shoe and receivers on the strobes. Don’t hesitate to call the rental shop, explain your gig, and ask their advice on gear as well! – OnBreak. Aug 3 '19 at 2:18
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    ended up doing the rental and it worked out well I think! – MonkeyBonkey Aug 16 '19 at 14:55
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What bothers me about continuous lighting rigs is that they're a bit "squinty" for your prospective clients to be staring past whilst you get your shot ready.

There's always the issue that flash might upset the baby, but I think it would be easier on the adults.

Flash with modelling lights would be best of all - but that's not going to be cheap.

I often actually use both together, continuous & flash, trying to mimic modelling lights [though not precisely as I can't get them both into the same position] but the continuous lighting helps for speedy focussing. I also have adjustable brightness continuous lighting, so I dial it back as far as it will go to overcome the 'squinty' aspect.

Of the two choices, umbrella vs softbox, I like softboxes for tight portraits, maybe umbrellas by the time I'm wide as your family shots, but I don't think it's the make or break choice. Close to a back wall like that, neither will kill your shadows on the wall.

Late thought...
If you used either of your proposed continuous lighting solutions & hid them behind large white sheets, you would spread the light & simultaneously reduce the 'squint'.
Hang or frame a sheet at 45 - 60° both sides of your space & put your lighting behind it so it illuminates the whole sheet. [drawing only shows the far side, nearside would mirror this]

Excuse the dodgy artwork ;-)

enter image description here

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Do not buy those. Do not buy for now any softbox kit.

  1. Softboxes on a light stand with kids playing around is a bad idea.

  2. That kind of setups of objects in front of the subject where the light is comming from the sides will cast shadows on them.

  3. The continuous light will not be powerful enough.

  4. You will not move the setup for your "action shots" (btw, a baby crawling... that is so cute for an action shot)

Just don't.

Get instead a good flash with a swivel head and bounce the light to the ceiling (unless it has a strong color or it is very dark, both very rare cases) Check that the flash has a little white card that pops. Yongnuo and Godox are cheap but still good brands. You probably need a TTL flash as you are a beginner.


If you think safety is assured, because it will be on an isolated part of the room, ok, then you need.

  • A couple of sturdy light stands.

  • Some sandbags and ducktape for the cables (if the case).

  • Big softboxes or white umbrellas (I would say 80 cm or bigger)

  • Depending on the type of softbox, an S type or E type.

  • Three flashes. Two for the softboxes and one for your camera. I would use on the camera one master than can fire the other two.

  • You probably need an assistant to help you set it up and take care of it while you are making the "action shots"... (so cute, really)

  • If you choose this path, you need to see specific combinations of flash models and triggers. (Godox has an easier system to fire multiple flashes combining TTL and Manual) But with some practice, you can use a "Manual mode only" which is cheaper.

I am using more and more battery-powered flashes. You can get some with a dedicated battery or ones with AA batteries. Use rechargeable ones. Be ecological. Have one or two more sets for each flash (still, carry some ducktape on your bag).


Practice setting up this kit. Assemble it and disassemble it a couple of times.

Make test shots to calculate the angle where you do not cast ugly shadows. Study some light setups, I would use the two lights close to the center and above the camera. Similar than a butterfly setup but with two flashes.

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I have lit quite tricky subjects with my EOS Rebel SL2 (200D in Europe). If the flash gets too harsh you can bounce it putting your hand in front of it in an near 45° angle. Shooting RAW, this gave me pretty good results.

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If I were shooting this with kids in the room and a large area to cover, I would place two strobes or strong floods on both sides of the area and point them directly at the ceiling tilted toward the center. They should be slightly above head height. You need broad lighting. Avoid hot lights and umbrellas or softboxes and avoid light stands if possible. Tape your strobes to the wall or to a stationary object. Or, use a single on camera strobe tilted to the center of the ceiling. If the ceiling is not white, you must do a custom white balance or light directly from the mid-sides with umbrellas . Weigh down the light stands with sand bags or they will be knocked over.

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