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Tips & Tricks

One Light, One Photographer: Shooting Dramatic Portraits Without An Assistant

By Hanssie on November 21st 2014

I’m a team player. I like collaboration. I thrive on the meeting of minds and ideas and creating as a team. For weddings, I always have a second shooter with me, but for portraits, I usually shoot solo. I also don’t use much off camera flash so I don’t usually need an assistant because I work fast, the kiddos have short attention spans, and I don’t want to be bothered with schlepping a bunch of equipment around because it’s heavy. Plus I’m kinda lazy when it comes to these things.

In the following video from our friends at The Slanted Lens, Jay P. Morgan takes off to blustery Maine to shoot some dramatic portraits of fishermen, with one light and no assistant and he shows you how he does it.


Jay P. shows us his ‘Run and Gun‘ set-up which consists of a a Photoflex Triton on a stand and an Octodome with a grid. He hangs his extra batteries on the stand as weights along with a portable sandbag so the whole setup won’t blow over in a gust of wind. Shooting with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Tamron 24-70mm 2.8, with a second backup Mark III and a Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 lens attached to his hip with a Spider Holster, Jay P. used ambient light as the fill and the strobe as key and used a PocketWizard to trigger.

You can see Jay P.’s camera settings and read more about the shoot over on The Slanted Lens blog here. Below are a few of the images that came from the shoot.

one-light-portraits-on-location-by-yourself-12 one-light-portraits-on-location-by-yourself-14 one-light-portraits-on-location-by-yourself-11

CREDITS: All photographs by Jay P. Morgan are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    love the pictures

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  2. Hans photoWerks

    Great tips for a solo!

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  3. Fernando Lachica

    Awesome and inspiring photos of men-at-work. Great!

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  4. Nick Viton

    (however, i do see an assistant…)

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    • Adelaide Lawren

      Hi Nick! Good eye. The assistant is for shooting the behind the scene’s tutorial. She did not help with the actual shoot. Thank you for watching + for the compliment.

      Adelaide at The Slanted Lens

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    • Adelaide Lawren

      Love the post, Hanssie! Thank you so much!!

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  5. Greg Silver

    Very inspiring to see what one person can accomplish!

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