As you begin to gain interest in off-camera flash, you’ll notice tons of image deconstructions that use multiple lights. Sometimes it’s just two lights and other times it’s 4, 5, or 6+. It can quickly become overwhelming. Although, I’m here to tell you that a single light can take you really far in the photography world.
When I first started using off-camera flash, my main goal was to be able to produce great images no matter the lighting conditions. So I’ve always been a fan of the single light setups. Although I have used multiple lights for certain situations, my go-to setups all involve a single light.
You see, using a single light means you’re more likely to bring the light with you. If you have to lug four lights and stands up a mountain, or even across a parking lot, you’re more likely to skip them all together. Pairing down your gear kit ensures you’re more likely to always have what you need on hand when inspiration strikes.
As you learn, you’ll want to start playing with more and more lights. And really, that’s the goal. You want to be at the level where you can break down and light an image where you are noticing and accounting for small details. I always have my go-to kit and then leave the full load of gear in the car or off to the side of the location. I’m traveling light but when the situation arises, I’m still ready to get complicated.
The trick is to be able to distinguish between the situations where one light will do and where you need more. For situations where more is optimal, you also need to learn whether the image is really worth the work. For example, I can spend the time setting up six lights for an image of the wedding cake. Although, most of the time, that’s not really worth the effort.
So, what is my go-to kit for 90-percent of what I shoot? I have my Sony a9 paired with a 24mm, 35mm, or 85mm prime lens. Then, for lighting, I have my Flashpoint eVOLV 200 Pro attached to my Phottix Padat Carbon light stand. I also usually have some type of magmod modifier attached and then I use the Flashpoint R2 Mark II to trigger the light.
This kit, more often than not, gets me through an entire wedding day. When I need more than one light, it’s for the rare portrait or for the reception where I’ll be shooting the same area for a really long time so it makes sense to put in a little extra work. Although, there are still reception situations where I prefer to stick with a single light.
In closing, if you are just getting started, don’t be intimidated by all the multi-light setups you see. If you are running around with huge bags of lights everywhere you go, you may be better off sticking with a single light and using that extra time to really dial in your composition and moment.
Article and Photos by Jason Vinson