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I would like to share a simple lighting set-up thats been around for a long time. The back-lit lighting set up has made its marks in both fashion and commercial photography but now I have been noticing that it’s made its way into portrait and senior photography. This is because the US’s portrait and senior markets are showing more photographers moving back into studio.


Here is the back-lit lighting set-up as a traditional set. What you’re seeing here is a large softbox of your choice as the background (white), and for me a harder light source, like a beauty dish or a maxi light, as the main source.

The downfall to this set-up is that you’re limited by the size of the modifier you choose to use as your backlight/background. For example, the largest softbox I own is a 4’ x 6’ box so shooting 5’10 models makes a really tight image. I am constantly either shooting off the top of the box or getting the bottom of the box in my images and having to fix this in postproduction, which is not cost or time-effective. The BEST solution for me has been Savage’s Translum Backdrop.



Here is my 4’ x 6’ softbox. Due to the size and weight of the box the fabric on the front is not 100% tight. So to get a clean (free from texture) look I would have to blow out the box. This is not always preferred as I don’t really want the edges of the model to blow out the details also.


Here you can see I placed my roll of Translum in front of my softbox. This set up gives me control on how much light wraps around my model and still gives me a clean, free of fabric detail, white background.


Add the roll of Translum to an old school lighting setup and expand your creativity.

Translum’s wonderful diffusing qualities make it an ideal choice for a backdrop. It offers the perfect solution to the traditional soft box background, whereas a softbox shows texture in it’s fabric and limits you to the size of your modifier, Translum is a seamless roll and provides an even, smooth look. I simply hang my roll from my Savage background stand and place the roll between the model and the backlight. Doing this allows me the ability to have a 10ft background and the flexibility of shooing a model full length.

Adding a roll of Translum to your studio is a no brainer! It’s relatively inexpensive considering all that you can do with it, and is the most cost-effective means of creating customized light diffusers for any of your projects. Once your shoot is done, you’ll be able to re-use the pieces next time.

Let me know how you use Savage Translum to enhance your studio photo projects in the comments below.

Craig Stidham

Craig is a professional portrait & fashion photographer based in Texas. He has a formal degree in photography and his groundbreaking images have appeared in fashion & photography magazines including PPA's Professional Photographer Magazine and on billboards nationwide. A former college instructor, he now conducts workshops for photographers eager to learn his avant garde style. He has spoken at Imaging USA, WPPI-U, SYNC and Fotochaos 2, on creating fashion senior style images. He is also an author of two books: "Fashion Seniors" and "Dynamic Posing Guide, Modern techniques for Digital Photographers" Published by Wiley. Check out his website.


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