Portraits, products, and even still-life photographs are often seen with a white background. The white setting gives the subject an airy and flattering quality. While such photographs look simple, achieving a properly lit background isn't. The background needs to be white, but not too white. It also needs to be uniform. Shadows need to be preserved lest the subject appear to be floating in a white void.
I attended a workshop given by the RA Photo Club to learn how to do this. There are a few different methods for lighting a white background. The workshop covered what is probably the most common method: using two background lights. The workshop was held in the photo club studio using the club's studio equipment. The background lights were two large softboxes, on either side and behind the model. In addition, there were key, fill, and hair lights. The six students in each session adjusted the lights with the guidance of the instructors. The model for the workshop was again the marvelous Brianna