Best type of light for portaiture?

Started Apr 18, 2013 | Questions thread
Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 13,763
Re: Best type of light for portraiture?

TristatePhoto, I stopped responding to your posts when I realized that you were locked into a position and were going to defend it regardless of the facts.  Given your personal attacks on Barry perhaps it is time I changed my mind and responded to you again.

Put simply, there are more than one way to do most things.  Your way may be best for you but it is not necessarily the best for everyone.  When you learn this simple lesson you will be a better person, and one that is easier to like and appreciate.

Beginners simply don't have the necessary experience to know what the best type of lighting is, which is why they ask.  It is our responsibility to give them the best possible answer for their circumstances, not to just loudly proclaim that we are doing things the best way and all others are wrong.

Using hot-shoe flash to do portraiture is one way of doing portraiture and I'm happy if it works for you, but it is not necessarily the best all the time.  Sometimes available light, continuous lighting, studio strobes, or Fresnels are better.  It takes a lot of study and experience to learn what is the best type of light to use in any given case.

I have seen many photographers start doing portraiture with hot-shoe flash units and give up because they can't get good results because they can't see and understand the lighting like they would if they had used studio strobes with modeling lights.

Seeing the light on the subject with the modeling lights of studio strobes is why Barry and I both recommend them for beginners.  Being able to see the lighting allows new comers to start taking good portraits much more easily and much more quickly than if they use hot-shoe flash units.

Seeing the light on the subject is also the reason why I see the very best portrait artists using either continuous lighting or studio strobes, not hot-shoe flash.

In a nut shell, that is why I believe studio strobes with modeling lights are the best choice for a new portrait photographer. I gather that is also Barry's reason for recommending studio strobes with modeling lights.

I'm glad that you are happy with using only hot-shoe flash units but here is a challenge for you.

Buy yourself a set of budget priced studio strobes and use them for a dozen studio portrait shoots.  I suspect that you won't want to go back to using only hot-shoe flash units for studio work, but If I'm wrong sell the studio strobes then come back here and tell us exactly why you got better results with hot-shoe flash units.  I'm sure those of us with decades of experience like Barry and me are still willing to learn.  Are you?

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