We've all had that moment. You're out shooting on location, the shots are looking great, the weather's perfect, and then CRASH... a rogue gust of wind tears through your set and blows over your light stand. Bummer, but there's one piece of gear you can take on a shoot to prevent this kind of catastrophe, and it's not a sandbag.
The Human Light Stand is one of the most useful tools in photography. Gone are the days of setting up a stand, checking what the light is doing on screen, and walking back out to the stand to move it. With the Human Light Stand, all you need to do is tell it where to go!
Ok, lets be serious, even if only for a second. Human Light Stands, friends, whatever you want to call them, are the best thing you can possibly show up to a shoot with. Personally, I try to shoot with a Human Light Stand whenever possible. I've had my share of bad experiences shooting alone where wind has knocked over my lights (even with sandbags). Thankfully it's never actually broken a strobe, but I'm done taking chances. I now almost always have someone holding on to my light stands, or even just hand-holding my strobes. Human Light Stands differ from Photo Assistants in that a Human Light Stand doesn't really need any photo experience. I've drafted everyone into Human Light Stand service, from my friends who don't know or care to know anything about photography to my fiancé, who attempts an interest in what I do even if it means light stand duty, (thanks Nicole). A Human Light Stand is often available for far less than a Photo Assistant also. You can usually find a friend who's willing to help just because they're cool like that, or an inexperienced shooter who's looking for a little experience. Buying a Human Light Stand lunch or dinner after a shoot is recommended if you want them to be a repeat helper. Tip: if you're shooting cars, the car's owner is usually more than happy to help out.
Aside from the obvious, a light is not going to tip over while someone is holding on to it at all times, Human Light Stands provide one key element: Speed.
In most of my work, speed is an absolute necessity. Human Light Stands are worth their weight in Taco Bell tacos in these situations, and it's important to keep them well fed, an uprising from your photo gear can really wreck a shoot.
Having someone hand holding a strobe for you will save you TONS of time on location. This is especially useful when you're shooting without a permit and need to be in and out of your location quickly. In NYC for example, a $300 permit is needed if you have gear other than a tripod that touches the ground... see why a Human Light Stand is so useful? No light stand = no permit. Let's make that our little secret.
Just ask Douglas Sonders who shot this whole Honda ad in NYC without a permit thanks to his Human Light Stands.
In editorial work it saves me huge headaches when we're lighting 8 - 10 cars for a big composite for a cover. Having the lights move while I stay at the camera allows me to focus on the shot and make sure every piece that I need lit gets lit. In a huge 40 - 50 image composite, one missed step can be a disaster, and it's incredibly easy to make that mistake and skip a step while you're running from the light to the camera and back every few seconds.
I've seen plenty of wedding photographers using Human Light Stands as well. Any situation where you're going to need to be quick on your feet will benefit from one.
Many of my good friends, who are also some of my favorite automotive photographers have adopted the Human Light Stand into their work,