Ryan Klos’s Portrait Setup And What’s Inside His Gear Bag

I don’t know about you, but I love learning how other photographers work. From their lighting setup to post processing tips, I find it intriguing.

Heck, I find it downright fascinating!

You can only deconstruct an image so far without talking to the photographer who made it. Until you do, it’s speculation (even if it’s educated speculation).

So let’s remove all doubt and enjoy the recipes for a few recent images I’ve received questions about.

All Photos © Ryan Klos


cool stuff


  • Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm; 1/125 @ f/5.6; ISO 100
  • Beauty dish and small softbox


  • Beauty dish at camera right above and pointing at model, about two feet away
  • Small soft box behind the model outside of the frame at camera left (pointing directly across the frame left to right) to light the background and add separation between model and background


portrait of motocross rider


  • Canon 30D, 28-70mm; 1/125 @ f/11; ISO 100
  • 2 medium soft boxes


  • One medium soft box on either side of the frame pointing at each other, about 10 feet apart
  • Shot in the middle of the day

Senior on Stairs

senior portrait


  • Canon 5D Mark II, 85mm; 1/160@ f/3.2; ISO 200
  • Natural light with reflector


  • All natural sunlight coming from camera left (about 6:30 pm)
  • The building reflected some light at the camera and then we used a silver Calumet Zipdisc at immediate camera left to bounce it back in

Model Black & White

portrait of model in black and white


  • Canon 5D Mark II, 85mm; 1/125 @ f/5.6; ISO 100
  • 1 six-foot soft box, 1 6×4′ silver reflector panel


  • Six-foot soft box at camera right about 4 feet away from model
  • Large 6×4′ silver panel reflector just outside the frame at camera left for fill

Girl on Engine

senior portrait on motor engine


  • Canon 5D Mark II, 85mm; 1/125 @ f/5.6; ISO 100
  • 1 large soft box, one umbrella


  • Soft box is several feet behind the model at camera left, pointing at her
  • At camera right is a 32″ shoot through umbrella pointing down on the model, about 3 feet away
Ryan Klos

Ryan Klos is an author and photographer in Northern Illinois specializing in senior portraits and corporate/business headshots. He also shoots stock photography for Getty Images. He's a runner, rides a motorcycle, and has a habit of putting books down halfway through and never finishing them.

  1. Simple and to the point. I like it. In fact, this came in handy during one of my concept shoots. When we couldn’t nail down something we liked, we used some of these as starting points to test ISOs and f-stops. (We’re not photographers.)

    Thanks, and keep it up.

Comments are closed.