Shutter Speed in a Studio Environment

If you’ve been practicing photography on Manual mode, you’re probably aware that slowing down your shutter speed will brighten your images but make moving objects appear with motion blur.
Inside of a photography studio, this is not the case. Professional photography studios do not use constant light sources, they use strobe lights that flash very brightly for only a small fraction of a second. There is no ambient light source around, so slowing the shutter speed will serve no purpose. Increasing the shutter speed is also a pointless endeavor for the same reason. However, increasing the shutter speed can actually cause a black bar to appear in the image; this is the actual shutter of the camera starting to close before the strobe has flashed.
As a practical exercise, you can set your shutter speed to 1/100 and take an image. Then adjust your shutter speed to something far slower, say 1/20 (a point where hand holding the camera would be ill-advised) and take another shot. There will be absolutely no difference between the two shots. In fact, for fun, have your subject wave their hand in both images. Even at 1/20 of a second or under, there will be no motion blur. This is due to the flash of light being the only light hitting the sensor. It goes so fast, that it will freeze the image at around 1/120 of a second.
To control brightness in a studio environment, you can adjust your aperture and ISO in the camera, and the power and distance of the strobe lights. Light amplifies by a power of two, so you can remember: Half the distance, double the brightness.
Shutter speed inside of a studio environment is almost useless.
Now, there are certain circumstances where you will rely heavily on shutter speed. Stroboscopic photography, for example, requires a slow shutter speed so that the strobe lights can be triggered multiple times during an exposure. For most instances, however, this is not the case.
So remember, next time you’re doing some photography inside a studio, set your shutter speed to 1/100 and forget about it! Adjust your brightness with the other tools at your disposal!


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