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Creating a 3 Light Look With 1 Strobe!

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

If you follow along on my Instagram, you may have seen a story a few days ago that asked how many strobes were used to create this headshot.

At first glance you would probably guess at least 2 since there's clearly a hair light, and a key light. However, if you look closer there is a little bit of texture light on the background which would indicate that there were at least 3 lights used to get the shot.

What if I told you that this shot was actually created by using just ONE strobe! That's right, 1 light. I'll admit, it was kind of a trick question because I rarely shoot with natural light in a studio, but for this shot, Allee-Sutton wanted a natural light look. It also just so happens that I have a giant glass garage door in my studio, so I was all about not needing to setup another light!

Now that we've got the key light sorted out, you're probably still wondering how I was able to get one light to create the look of 2. If I'm being completely honest, this was a result of what we call in the industry "a happy accident". Initially, I had an optical snoot to create a subtle pattern on the background, but after taking a few test shots I noticed a lot of light hitting her hair. Check out these BTS shots that compare the difference between flagging the light and not.

Notice the hard light hitting her hair that is a direct result of the gap in the optical snoot. Normally I would just flag the light and call it a day, but I actually liked the way it looked so I taped up an orange gel and just ran with it!

Check out this video I shot that gives a quick explanation of how I got the shot.

I hope you found this article helpful, and if you want to take your lighting and photography to the NEXT LEVEL, join me at my upcoming workshop this January in Franklin Lakes, NJ at Loveprint Photography's studio. I'm so excited to be back up in the NY/NJ area, and if you're anywhere nearby, I would love to see you at my workshop! Click the link below to register.

All the best,

Jeff Carpenter

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Hey Jeff, wouldn't you consider it a 4 light look, since you used a V-Flat below her to fill in the shadows under her chin and neck?

Jeff Carpenter
Jeff Carpenter
Nov 11, 2022
Replying to

I guess you could, but I don’t usually consider the under fill as a light source. In this case it was less of a fill and more or a place to put her hands though.

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