Oh shit, I realized that it’s been a while since I last posted an image with a corresponding light setup, so I’m correcting that oversight with today’s post, showing another single light setup.
Should I buy a single light or a kit?
In the following picture, I had the joy of working with a well-known model, Carlotta Champagne (link is NSFW, by the way). This shot is a few years old but I think it’s an excellent example of a single light setup.
In a lot of my classes, students ask what a decent lighting “kit’ is. Usually they’ve found some $500 three-light kit on the net and wonder if it’s a good kit to start with. My answer is almost always, “no, it isn’t”. You’re going to get a set of lights that are low powered and pretty limited. As I like to say (over and over and over and…), you should always buy gear that you will grow into and not out of.
With studio lights, I tell people to spend the same money on a decent single light with a couple of modifiers and learn to rock that light. Then, when you find you want to add a second light, go ahead and buy the second light. But, if you learn to shoot with a single light first and then add (and learn to use) a second light, you have two options moving forward; use a single light or a double light. Then, when you want to shoot a setup that requires a third light, you can add that to your gear. But, at no point, do you find yourself having to sell what you recently purchased. Yo ucan just add on to what you already have.
Make no mistake, you will grow out of that cheap light kit and you’ll grow out of it very quickly. So you are just paying good money to rent the lights until you can sell them. Oh, and the used market for cheap-ass studio lights is almost nil.
How to rock a single light
Anyway, if you are still on the fence and think you need a shitload of lights to get a decent image, I present Carlotta – shot with just one decent studio light and a homemade reflector (that cost me less than $20 to make):
So, how was this single light set up achieved? Very simply! I had my key light on camera-right, aimed at Carlotta from a 45° angle and, on camera-left, a silver bounce also angled about 45° from her:
Thanks for sticking with me through the end of this post – I hope it was useful!
By the way, I freaking LOVE comments, so please let me know if you found this helpful and if you have any other ideas for a blog post that you’d like from me.
Cheers, and keep shooting!
Rob Domaschuk, a professional photographer and educator, is not only the guy behind ShootHybrid.com but also one of the owners of the Chicagoland Digital Photography Meetup Group (one of the largest Meetup groups in the country) and one of the co-hosts on the semi-weekly podcast, Polarizing Images.
Domaschuk has quickly taken hold of the new hybrid imaging era in photography and, drawing upon almost 15 years of corporate training experience, he is now focusing his photo education efforts on helping both the amateur and professional photographer develop their skills in this new area of photography.