Six Simple One-Light Portrait Photography Setup YouTube Tutorials

Whether you are an amateur or professional photographer, these illuminating YouTube videos can add to your photography skills repertoire. Don't have much cash, or only one speedlight? Then do not fret! Here are six instructional and fun, one light, Portrait photography setups, that anyone with a speedlight and a softbox can try.


It's not often that you may find yourself in a tire factory. But if by chance you are visiting one today or any other day, then here is a great environmental portrait photography project for you that is tutored by the great photography guru Bryan Peterson. (Note: This can be shot in any factory).

The fantastic photography educators, Tony and Chelsea Northrup, take you through an easy to pick up, step by step, home sitting room setup, using an off camera speedlight and and couple of umbrellas. They then venture outdoors to show you how to use the daylight and sunlight in conjunction with a speedlight. Enjoy!

An incredibly fun tutorial using a speedlight for a flash painting portrait shot by Good Light! Clips. If you have not tried this before, just remember to open your shutter for a long exposure when taking this shot.

If you only have a tiny space to work in then fear not. Let the incomparable Mark Wallace walk you through an easy to set up, portrait shoot, using a gridded softbox and one flash head, in a very small hotel room in Paris. You too can get some fantastic contrast in your lighting using Mark's methods.

Get your bucket out and make sure your room is waterproof. This fun shoot by Gavin Hoey will have you wishing you had more towels. If you do not have an assistant, remember to put your camera on Timer mode. You will need a short flash duration to freeze the water in the shot, so keep your speedlight power low.

In this informative tutorial, J.P Morgan shows you what it takes to light a face, explaining how to control highlights and shadows with fill cards and how to create separation between the model and background. The elaborate equipment that J.P. uses can be substituted with your own lights and hairdryer.

I hope that you have learned something new and found any or all of these Portrait Photography video interesting. YouTube is a fantastic resource for photographers that want to expand their skills.  See ya soon...

Just One Light - Uncomplicated Lighting Set-Ups

When it comes to Product & Still Life Photography it is possible to make stunning imagery with just one strobe.  Whether you're using Continuous lighting, a hotshoe mounted flash, a monolight, natural window light or even a table lamp, you can make a bowl of fruit glow with light and colour that you would never find in the fruit aisle of a supermarket.  

If you start out your tabletop photography career with just a table lamp, some tracing paper, some black & white cards (to bounce the light back) you can produce fantastic quality shots of Wine Bottles, Glasses, Food, ornaments... the list goes on.

Even Jewellery photography, which can be very complex and can utilise a gang of strobes in one studio set-up, can be tackled with one light and softbox and bounce cards.

Phillip McCordall, a very experienced, Professional photographer, uses just one overhead strobe in a softbox in this video:

His videos are excellent learning tutorials for any aspiring beginner.  He mainly uses table lamps to show you the process of lighting Bottles, glasses and other stuff.

Another excellent Photographer, Vadim Chiline of EpicMind Studio, takes you through his shot of a cosmetic product using just a grid spot, on his blog.


I was using one light for the Carved Wooden Motorbike shots this week.  An 18cm, 20 Degree Grid Spot in various positions, set the tone for me.  Dramatic, moody, mysterious, those were the themes that I had in mind when I started shooting.  I knew that I could achieve this by using a Honeycomb grid.  

The fun part of lighting shots like this is how to light the rest of the bike.  The narrow beam of light that the grid spot provided, did not fill in the areas that remained untouched by the light - the bottom side of the bike facing the camera.  

This is where I used white bounce cards, to light those areas.  Depending on the angle I placed those cards, or if I used a black card to cut out the light, (which I initially did) I can subtly shape the light to my taste.

Want a bit of shadow and contrast near the back, then I would cut out the light with a black card.  A little more light down the front; turn the white card towards it.

In this case, after various set-ups I found that I wanted the side of the bike to be lit evenly, so I evenly place the white bounce cards along the front.

I took three separate shots with the grid spot in different positions and post processed in Lightroom & Photoshop to achieve the three shots I have of the bike.

I think it is just as enjoyable lighting Still Life & Product photography with just one light, it certainly is satisfying finding the correct position for the light and then bringing light back into the shadow areas with the cards.  Just remember to have items to prop the cards up, like wine bottles or stands.