Photography Lighting is supported by readers. When you buy with our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more

This post was most recently updated on January 8th, 2023

Are you looking at shooting portraits but don’t know how big your softbox should be? Maybe your current softbox isn’t cutting it, and you want to know what size to get?

Or perhaps this is your first softbox, and you want to get the sizing right? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you! 

We know how challenging it can be to find the right-sized softbox, especially when shooting portraits.

You want to make sure that the subject is well lit and that you can deliver consistent results time after time, with the right-sized softbox being key to delivering that. But with so many on the market, all in different sizes, finding the right one is challenging. 

Well, no more! Today we are here with a definitive answer of how big your softbox should be when taking portraits. We also have some top tips to help you choose the best reflector for taking portraits too! Get ready to revamp your setup and take fantastic portraits!

How Big Should My Softbox Be For Portraits?

Let’s get straight into it! For portraits, your softbox should be roughly the same size as your subject, i.e., the person you are taking the portrait of.

How Big Should My Soft Box Be For Portraits (How to Choose A Reflector)

If you take a range of portraits with subjects of all sizes and ages, you might want to consider opting for the average size and using that to purchase your softbox. Or, if your portraits are mainly of children and pets, work with a smaller softbox.  

The size also depends on the type of portraits you shoot and the size of the subject.

Generally, for headshots or half-shot portraits, you will want a softbox between 18 and 24 inches to ensure enough lighting for their face and upper body. 

For full-body portraits, though, you will want to go much larger. Usually, we see photographers use softboxes that are 48 inches or larger.


You might also find that you need multiple softboxes in these cases to ensure that the subject’s whole body has enough light. 

We tend to see multiple softboxes being used when taking group portraits too. If you take many group shots, it might be worth considering a second or third softbox to ensure every person is appropriately lit. 

When searching for your new softbox, the size will be listed on the product description, allowing you to find the perfect size for your needs. You might also want to speak to other portrait photographers to see what size softbox they use and whether they think it’s worth purchasing multiple softboxes. 

Having the right-sized softbox for your portraits will mean that the subject or subjects get plenty of soft lighting to enhance your work and ensure that they are well captured.

After all, no one wants to hang a dark portrait up on their walls, do they? 

It is worth noting that larger softboxes can be more expensive, pricing a lot of amateur photographers out. In these cases, we recommend looking at your budget and purchasing the largest-sized softbox that you can afford.

Doing so will ensure that your images get enough light and cover you for half portraits and hopefully full-body portraits! 

Remember, your softbox should be roughly the same size as your subject to ensure they get plenty of light and are captured well. If you shoot a range of portraits for different sizes or angles (headshots, half, or full), it might be worth having a few different-sized softboxes.

Based on their price, though, we recommend only doing this if you are a professional portrait photographer or have the funds to do so.

What Can I Use With A Softbox? 

So what else can you do if you can’t afford the best size softbox for you or you find yourself needing more light? Well, you could try adding a reflector!

Soft Box Be For Portraits and Reflector

Reflectors usually aren’t expensive (depending on their size) and will reflect the light, redirecting it to brighten up dark or shadowy areas in your image. 

If you don’t have a large enough softbox to light the whole portrait, adding a reflector is a cheaper and easier way to manipulate the light and ensure that you get the shot you want.

Most photographers will already have a reflector in their arsenal, but if you don’t, fear not! We will walk you through choosing the best one now!

How To Choose A Reflector 

There’s plenty of options when it comes to choosing a reflector, especially one for taking portraits. To help you narrow your choice and find the best one, you can use the following factors. 

What Size? 

When it comes to reflectors, we say, the bigger, the better! For headshots or three-quarter-length portraits, we would opt for reflectors that are at least 30 inches.

These will work well to brighten the areas you want to brighten and help to remove shadows from the chin, for example. 

You will want to go even larger with 50 inches, or larger is better suited to these portraits for full-length portraits. These larger reflectors are also best to use with group photoshoots too. 

Consider the portraits that you take and purchase the reflector that best suits your needs. 

What Shape?

Reflectors come in various sizes and shapes; usually, they are flat and round or rectangular, but we recommend trying something different for portraits.

Curved reflectors have become increasingly popular when taking portraits, as they work to remove shadows from the face and neck and even define factual features. Those taking fashion photos or portraits tend to use these. 

Umbrella reflectors are also excellent options to use for portraits. These reflectors make it easier to control the light, focusing on more specific areas than flat reflectors.

The umbrella reflects the light onto the subject, and these are often seen in portrait shoots. 

Consider these options when looking for a reflector to fit your needs. 


You will also want to consider the color of the reflector. There are a few different ones you can choose from that can enhance your portraits too! 

  • White reflectors – will fill light, softening and eliminating shadows. It provides a natural-looking and neutral light. 
  • Silver reflectors – provide the most light and are fantastic for dull conditions. Avoid using these in direct sunlight as the light will be too harsh. Silver is often used to increase highlights and contrast.
  • Gold reflectors – will add a warm and golden light, usually adding amber hues to skin tones. 
  • Black – will remove the light from your image, offering contrast and more shadows 
  • Translucent diffusers – can be used to make your light less harsh and more even across the image

Based on these descriptions, choose the color for your reflector that best suits your portraits. Commonly, white is used for portraits.

How Much?

Reflectors can be quite affordable, but it’s worth noting that the larger the reflector is, the higher the price point! Before purchasing your reflector, consider your budget and how much you can afford to spend.

Think about the above factors mentioned and what is important to you. Using this to determine your budget will often help you to get the perfect reflector for you. 

Remember, you don’t need to spend a fortune! There is a reflector to suit every budget. 

Final Thoughts 

And just like that, we have come to the end of our softbox journey today. As you can see, your softbox should be roughly the same size as the subject in your portraits for best results.

You can work with the average size if you shoot a range of subjects or purchase multiple softboxes if you can afford to. 

If needed, remember to include a reflector to angle the light and manipulate it to hit your image better.

With such a simple device, you can brighten shadows and dark spots to create the perfect image. Be sure to use