Learn 21 One-Light Portrait Setups In Less Than Six Minutes

Sometimes photographers may be in a situation where they only have a single light source at their disposal during a portrait session. The good news is there are many ways you can use a single light to create unique and dramatic looks for portrait work as Dima Metkin demonstrates.

While some portrait photographers have become known for using a veritable boatload of lighting, oftentimes photographers can achieve incredible finished photos with just a little creativity and far fewer pieces of equipment.

In his sub-six-minute video, Metkin shows how to achieve 21 different styles with just a single light and a variety of accessories and modifiers, and includes lighting diagrams with settings for viewers to use as a detailed guide for themselves. The video has no voice-over tracks, no advertisements for sponsors, and is no-nonsense. Instead, Metkin just dives straight into a quick and concise guide on how to create the plethora of different and unique styles for portrait work using a single strobe. He goes quickly, so be prepared to pause and rewind when a particular style is worth studying.

The video starts with some very basic setups and then dives deeper into more complicated and interesting looks by adding more accessories and props, but all the while maintaining the use of just a single main light source. In short, the demonstration proves there is a lot that can be achieved with just one light.

Metkin begins with a traditional diffused portrait light at a 45-degree angle above and slightly to the side of his subject, shifts into a more directly lit positioning for the second setup, and after that breaks from the norm and tries different and interesting options. Some of the other setups he demonstrates include bouncing the light bare-bulbed into the ceiling to create a simulated daylight look, using v-flats to carve light for a little more dramatic beauty look, and even uses those same v-flats to block and bounce the light in unique shapes and patterns for rims and silhouettes. Metkin even goes so far as to show how to use an on-camera speedlight for a fashion-forward look, a flashlight to light-paint, and how to use various props like plant leaves and lawn chairs to create interesting shapes with shadows for more creative work.

For more from Dima Metkin, make sure to subscribe to his YouTube Channel.