So, what do you need to use when you are looking for softbox-like light quality without having light spill all over the place? The answer is simple, the gridded softbox. It gives you the same control over light as normal grid spots that you'd throw in front of a normal barebulb light, but now with soft, beautiful light. I've always loved using grid spots on my barebulbs, but the light can just be so harsh on a subject's face, especially when it is one of the key lights. The gridded softbox works on that same principle, controlling the light and only letting it hit a small portion of a subject, but now you can get those pleasing contrasts and skin tones you can't get very well with barebulb lighting.
That's typically my problem too, wanting that gorgeous, soft light on my subjects (usually female), but having trouble trying to keep the light off of other elements of the photo. It's not an easy task, that is, until now. Notice the photo below, my subject is literally 2-3 feet away from a black sheet used for a background, yet no light is spilling onto it. Even though it is a black sheet, if you were using a normal softbox for a light modifier, you'd have light spill onto the sheet and you'd get a little grey tint to the background. The grid added to the softbox directs the light on just my subject... a very good thing in this case.
Light, you know... that stuff we need reflecting off of everything around us to see. It's awesome, but... it doesn't tell nearly as good of a story as the shadows. Of course without light, you'd just have shadow, a black image, so I'm talking about a good mix of the two, it's that heavy contrast between light and dark that I'm in love with. Just as much as I need the light in my shots, I need those shadows. In my mind, it's not the light that tells the story of an image, it's the shadows, the parts we can't see. It carves out the subject, showing shape, telling a story all in it's own. Sure, super bright, over exposed images are great for making people's skin and faces look nice and clean, but it's boring. I want some character, I want the person to be etched in their true form, not hidden in bright, over exposed images. I'm always looking for ways to bring deep, dark shadows into my images. I believe it tells the best story, it makes people stop and look at it. Obviously, there will always be exceptions to the rule, I will shoot bright, happy images when it's called for, but my preference is like the image below.