An Easy and Effective One-Light Portrait Photography Setup

When you are new to artificial lighting, you might not have the equipment to tackle complex multi-light setups, but that does not mean you will not be able to produce professional results. This great video will teach you how to create professional portraits using just a single light. 

Coming to you from Miguel Quiles, this excellent video tutorial will show you how to take professional portraits using just a one-light setup; in fact, Quiles takes his using only a speedlight. You can actually put together a fairly nice kit for only about $200 using a Yongnuo speedlight and Westcott softbox. Personally, I think it is much better to start learning artificial lighting with a single light, as you will be better able to understand and gain an intuition for things like modifier size and falloff when you are not dealing with the complexity of multiple lights. Notice that since Quiles does not have a light for the background to control its brightness separately from the subject, he uses the distance of the background from the light to control the amount of light that falls on it and thus, its relative brightness. Check out the video above for the full rundown.

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9 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

Why use a diagram and a couple of paragraphs of explanation when you can fill a video with you talking to camera?

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Some people are visual learners. No sense in cutting off that portion of people with just one medium.

michaeljinphoto's picture

One would think that a visual learner is exactly the type of person who would benefit from a diagram as opposed to a talking head.

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Take note that Miguel didn't write this article. He made the video and videos take a lot of work. So linking to his video is just fine. Credit where it's due.

Daniel Medley's picture

Miguel Quiles almost always has a lot of very useful information; especially when it comes to lighting.

Never underestimate the power of a single light.

Alex Cooke's picture

He's one of my favorite teachers.

michaeljinphoto's picture

It feels like I've seen a million of these one-light videos. Let's change things up a bit. Where are all the videos showing easy and effective 8-light setups?

But literally this is a 2 light setup (butterfly) by using the reflector...

Nick Viton's picture

I hear the recycle times with those Lastolites are insane! lolz