As a photographer and mom, the Profoto C1 Plus smartphone studio light has completely changed the game for me.

Growing up, I always loved looking through old family photo albums and knew that I wanted to document my family too. As I start to establish new traditions, like decorating for the holidays, I want to capture key moments. However, as a mom with an active toddler and infant, it isn’t always easy to keep up with them with my DSLR, especially when the lighting in my house isn’t always ideal.

Nine times out of ten, I find myself reaching for my iPhone instead and sacrificing image quality for the sake of the moment. But, with the Profoto C1 Plus, I am able to create professional quality images by crafting the type of light that I desire. Further, due to its small size, I am able to move around the house with ease, even with additional accessories such as the collection of C1 Plus modifiers and a light stand. Everything is lightweight and portable. And easy!

Below are some of my favorite features of the C1 Plus smartphone studio light, and how I use them. You’ll see why it is a staple in my smartphone photography kit.

1. The Profoto C1 Plus lets me pinpoint where and how I add light in my frame.

After the mom guilt I experienced with decorating for Halloween (let’s just say I only made it so far as helping my daughter put some window clings on the front door), I promised to do better for Christmas. Right after Thanksgiving, I started pulling out the decorations. One of the traditions I’ve started with my family is getting a new ornament with personal significance each year to add to the tree. My favorite ornament that I purchased this year is a disco ball ornament. The reason? Many nights we have dance parties in our kitchen before going to bed. Those nights are always filled with laughter and good times!

Profoto C1 Plus smartphone studio light review - flatlay of ornaments
Lit using only natural light.
Profoto C1 Plus smartphone studio light review - flatlay of ornaments
Lit with the C1 Plus on continuous setting using grid accessory.

Behind the scenes: using continuous light and the grid accessory.

When I laid the ornaments down, I loved the way the natural light evenly lit the image. However, the disco ball didn’t particularly stand out. Since one of the things that is so magical about disco balls is the way the light bounces around, I knew that I had to figure out a way to capture that. So, I grabbed the C1 Plus and directed the light exclusively to the ball ornament to bring out the brilliance of the ball.

In addition, I used the grid accessory because I just needed a touch of additional light; I liked how the natural light was illuminating the rest of the scene and didn’t want the light from the C1 Plus to spread to the rest of the objects in the scene. Because the grid decreases the light output, I put the continuous light on its highest setting. The grid gave me greater control, and going handheld allowed me to quickly adjust the positioning of the light in the moment until I had it just right.

BTS of photographer with Profoto C1 Plus smartphone studio light
Behind the scenes shot of the ornament setup with the C1 Plus smartphone studio light.

2. I’m able to create the perfect shadows and color to enhance the mood of my images.

I don’t know about you, but the holidays make me want to break out the “fancy” china and fun glasses. I love crystal and other faceted glasses because they create interesting shadows when the sun shines through the window. However, at the time of the shoot, the sun was not in the correct position in the sky. So, I decided to create this effect by pointing the C1 Plus studio light at the scene in the continuous light setting.

Behind the scenes: using the continuous setting and adjusting white balance.

I manually adjusted the camera exposure to 13.6 and then set the light to 7.9. Then, I played with the angle of the light and the distance from the scene to experiment with the length and direction of the shadows. I selected this image because I liked how the direction of the shadows mirrored the flow of the berries.

In addition, I wanted the feel of a winter’s day (even though Atlanta rarely sees snow), so I manually adjusted the white balance on the Profoto Camera app to give it a cooler temperature and adjusted the temperature of the light accordingly. I love that you can manually adjust both the kelvin temperature and the tint. Interestingly, the end result reminds me of the movie Frozen, which my daughter cannot stop talking about.

I left some white space in the upper right so that I could add a message like “Cheers to the holidays!” later on if I want.

Photo of glasses with shadow taken with Profoto C1 Plus
Here, I'm using the continuous setting to create harsh shadows.

3. It’s super easy to create bright, soft light, even on a dark winter evening.

Having a full-time job in addition to my photography business means that work often gets done late in the evening after the kids are in bed. With the sun setting earlier and earlier, there is less natural light to rely on when photographing. In the interim, I like to get in some quality family time. After I picked my daughter up from school one day, I decided to surprise her by starting to decorate her room for the holidays that evening. What better way to start than building a gingerbread house?!

When I think of a gingerbread house, I think of it being nestled in snow. Snowy scenes are often bright because the snow acts as a huge reflector and helps to light up the surroundings. With that in mind, I wanted to create a similarly bright and evenly lit image. I set up a large piece of white foam core, placed the C1 Plus with the dome attached on a light stand, and pointed it at the white card. By bouncing the light, I was able to create a softly lit image that mimics natural light.

Profoto C1 Plus flat lay image
Here's the final image.

Behind the scenes: Using the flash setting and dome attachment.

In this scenario, I used both the continuous light and the flash setting. Because there was low light in the area I wanted to shoot (I turned off the tungsten ceiling light to avoid distracting shadows), I used the continuous light as a modeling lamp to help me lock the focus.

Then, I used the flash setting on 10 to provide the main light. I was surprised at how powerfully and evenly the C1 Plus lit the scene.

BTW scene of flat lay image using C1 Plus
Here's how I set up the C1 Plus and camera.

4. I love that I can add exactly the right color temperature to meet my vision.

After we completed the gingerbread house, we wanted to put it on display. We added holiday lights to give that area of her room a festive touch. Then we hung a wreath for good measure.

Little girl hanging Christmas wreath lit by Profoto C1 Plus
Here's the final image.

Behind the scenes: using color temperature gels.

To counterbalance the yellow-orange color of the holiday lights, I added the ½ CTO gel to the C1 Plus and positioned the light so that it would both illuminate the gingerbread house and my daughter hanging the wreath.

I appreciated the ability to attach the C1 Plus to a light stand because the angle that I needed was out of arm’s length in relation to where I wanted the camera.

BTS of Christmas scene with Profoto C1 Plus
Here's how I set up the smartphone studio light.
Profoto C1 Plus smartphone studio light on phone

5 Secrets to getting the most out of your C1 Plus:

  1. Use the built-in capture button on the C1 Plus instead of the camera shutter to minimize camera shake when you are hand holding both the light and your phone or when you need to position the light away from the phone and don’t have a light stand.
  2. Start with the default settings. They often will get you exactly or pretty close to where your settings need to be for a well-lit image. If not, set the light output in the middle and adjust from there. I find that I typically use 6.0 or higher.
  3. Use the continuous light not only to light your image but to see where the light will fall, to help you lock focus in low light situations, and to help you see how changing the temperature of the light will affect the resulting image.
  4. Once you are comfortable with the light, experiment with the manual exposure in the Profoto Camera app. Use the sliders to get a proper exposure and tweak the temperature and tint of the image before adding the light.
  5. If you don’t have a tripod, use the self-timer to minimize camera shake when shooting flat lays. I like the 3-second timer best because it provides just enough time for me to keep my hand still without getting distracted.

Without the Profoto C1 Plus, I would not have taken most of these shots because it can be a hassle to move my studio setup throughout the house or wait for the perfect natural light. The C1 Plus smartphone studio light and mobile photography setup is the next best thing! It allows me to move with ease and quickly change my settings from soft light to harsh light. With a few simple steps, I can completely change the quality of the light and look and feel of the entire image!

Profoto C1 Plus smartphone studio light on phone

Photos by Kimberly Murray

This is a sponsored post, but opinions are those of the author. 

Kimberly Murray headshot, Profoto C1 Plus

Kimberly Murray is an Atlanta-based commercial photographer specializing in product styling, interiors, and lifestyle photography. She uses her Ph.D. in psychology to apply principles of perception to create images with visual impact, helping clients attract their ideal audience by showing the mood and personality of their brands.

See more of her work at kimberlymurray.com.