Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers by Christopher Grey is the perfect companion for any new or aspiring studio photographer. As I moved from one chapter to the next I was often reminded of the many lessons from my Studio Lighting 1 & 2 courses from college. Whether is was the practical introduction to professional studio equipment or the very easy to reproduce diagrams demonstrating technical setups, every page left me wanting to try another setup in the studio.

I would never say that a single book could replace the hands on experience you receive from a paid photography course. In fact, I would highly recommend every photographer drop the cash to support your local community college and take a photography class or two. For those of you who are really self starters however, this is the first book I’ve seen that could be used as an outline for a college level course in studio lighting.

Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers is divided into two parts. Christopher Grey does a great job of building a solid foundation of understanding before moving into practical application. The best part is, there isn’t an overload of technical information and there are plenty of images to help illustrate nearly every topic covered. Part One covers the principles of portrait lighting by covering topics like;

  • The Nature of Light
    • The Physics & Properties of Light
  • Professional Lighting Equipment
    • Light Positions
    • Light Types
    • Light Modifiers
  • Light Ratios
  • Classic Lighting Styles

The most successful photographs have always been lit as if from a single source.

Part Two is when the book really started to generate inspiration. This is when we start to discuss portrait lighting in practice and get a guided tour through nearly every imaginable portrait lighting scenario. We learn about all the basics from low-key to high-key and even some great examples of stylish over-exposure.

I would recommend this book for any photographer just starting out in a controlled lighting environment. For experienced studio photographers, a lot of the content in Part One may seem like a refresher course, but Part Two would serve as a great reference guide for shoots. You can learn more about Christopher Grey and see some of his work at

Technical: Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers by Christopher Grey is published by Amherst Media, publishers of fine photography books.