One light portrait set up.

If you have been to my studio, you will have seen a large array of lights and modifiers. In our studio, I think we have around 15 lights and probably close to 40 modifier options. Having everything from snoots to large octa banks is crucial in my line of work. I need to be prepared for every occasion. However, more often than not I end up using a one light portrait set up

Leicester portrait photographer Scott Choucino

Why use a one light portrait set up?

There are several reasons to use only the one light in portrait photography. There are also plenty of reasons to use multiple lights, but we will focus on the aforementioned for now. I am currently in the process of setting up as an educational resource, so be sure to sign up to the news letter for free articles on lighting and photography (bottom of this article).

It is simple

It is simple. In my personal opinion, simple is almost always better when it comes to portrait photography. One of the main reasons that I employ the simple one light set up is that it allows me to focus on my subject. If I am faffing about with 6-10 lights then it can really kill the mood of the photoshoot. You might also enjoy this article if you like a simplistic approach to your photography

It looks natural.

Generally speaking, you have one major light source. The Sun. Because of this, the human eye expects to see the world in this way. One light just looks more natural. Softboxes are like windows, umbrellas are an overcast day.


Often, I have very short time frames to do portrait sittings in. If I have one light set up on a boom arm with wheels, I can move between sets and ideas quickly and with little faff. This is really important to a large % of the work that I do commercially. Again, freeing up my time to focus on the subject, who should always be your priority.


A lot of my rational lives in this box. It’s the aesthetic. I love the look of one large umbrella for a headshot.  The soft even skin tones (more on that here) and the way the light falls off on the face in my opinion, looks perfect. There is more on that here

One light portrait set up
lit with a 7 meter umbrella and 2 large reflectors
One light portrait set up for portrait with bubblegum
Lit with a large octabank from camera left
Photoshoot with leicester band
Lit with a large umbrella from directly above
Leicester portrait photographer
This portrait is lit with a beauty dish on a boom arm directly above the model.
Lit with a small Speedlight in a octabox camera right
This portrait of Frank was lit with a beauty dish from above, using the drum skin as a reflector.
Placing the subjects in the right places was key for this shot of Calders band. I used a beauty dish from camera right, place behind my subjects (hence the flair)
Gothic Fashion Portrait
Lit with a standard bowens soft box (the one you get in the kits) from camera left, placed high above the model and on full power.

you can see my full portfolio at

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