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A simple and effective setup for dramatic one-light portraits

Not every professional photo needs to be expertly lit with three, four, five, or more lights. In fact, you can get amazing, high-quality results with just one light. The key, as with many things in photography, is simply understanding how to use the one light to your advantage in order to produce the best results.

Photographer Aaron Anderson posted a video on his YouTube channel detailing how to set up one light for dramatic portraits that can be reproduced virtually anywhere with consistent results. Anyone with a camera and a light could set up a similar kit to the one shown and be well on their way to creating dramatic portraits in no time.

Related: How and why 3-point lighting can take images to another level

Anderson goes through the entire process, from what gear he has set up, to why he chose it. After explaining the equipment, Anderson jumps right into how to position the light to create that dramatic look with minimal effort needed.

The purpose of this particular setup, as Anderson puts it, is to create a beautiful soft strip of light down the middle of the subject’s face, while retaining soft and even shadows on the sides of the head. This is a popular look for executives and other individuals needing headshots who prefer a darker, more dramatic look.

This could easily be reproduced with a Speedlight (or flash, for those who prefer that term), some foam core, and a cheap Speedlight softbox. If you have been looking to learn more about lighting or just want to be able to take better photos of your friends and family, then this is a great step toward better understanding light and how to work with it.

You can learn more from Anderson over on his YouTube channel, here.