The Pretty Flash Kit makes all the light you’ll ever need
When starting flash photography, should you buy a complete flash kit or should you rather buy one piece at a time, learn how to use it properly and then move on to the next one? My advise is: go full kit - right now!
Even though I’m telling you things like buy one lens at a time and learn how to use it (I’m currently learning how to use my 3rd lens), I feel like exactly the opposite is true when it comes to lighting gear. For me, shooting with half a flash kit is a bit like driving with half a car - let’s say driving with the front half of the car while the whole back is missing after the bad Terminator has cut it off with his giant axe: Maybe I can even drive with it for a few more meters, at least in Hollywood flicks, but it won’t take me very far, and for sure it’s not a nice experience.
So the question becomes: What is a complete flash kit that enables a beginner to master all sorts of lighting situations? I wrapped my head around this and finally I’d say: just use the stuff that I am using most of the time. I named this kit the “Pretty Flash Kit”. I detail it in this video:
Here’s a breakdown of the Pretty Flash Kit along with some affiliate links:
- 1 Master Flash (for instance SB900 / 580EX II)
- 3 Slave Flashes (SB600 / 430 EX II)
- 4 CTO Filters
- 3 Lightstands
- 3 Multiclamps
- 3 Large Shoot Through Umbrellas
- 1 Collapsible Reflector
While I am teaching a little bit of an extended flash kit in my advanced classes, I am very confident that the small kit listed above is absolutely complete from a beginners perspective. I mean, if you are just starting out you should anyway just accept with easily manageable assignments that require nothing more than headslapping simple lighting setups, right? Examples for that would be a magazine ad for skincare products that needs just the super soft “powder like” light that our Pretty Flash Kit was throwing onto cousin Ajiao in the example photo. Or a catalogue for the evening wear collection of a high class fashion label for which you might want to capture an intense mood by letting some hard lights hit your model from behind, like you see the Pretty Flash Kit doing in the example photo with cousin HeMin. Are those examples the type of situations that you want to master? Then the pretty flash kit is all you need.
It’s not even expensive. In my opinion for all of those items you can savely try to find the best bargain on ebay and then buy just that. Except for the flashes, quality is not really important with any of those things. This might be a little bit counter intuitive. When it comes to photography gear then a lot of times you’ll hear me say how important the quality is, for instance when it comes to lenses, batteries or radio remote triggers. In those cases the cheap stuff will just not work. But while I’d highly advice you to carefully choose your camera tripod and while I might suggest consider nothing less than expensive Manfrotto tripods for that purpose I don’t see much reason for having your speedlight residing on a luxurious Manfrotto lightstand instead of an affordable Cant-Spell-This-Name lightstand that you grab right from good old ebay. Instead of buying 3 luxurious lightstands better spend your hard-earned bucks on an economy class ticket to Asia, buy 3 super cheapo stands over there and find yourself a luxurious model instead.
I’ll now eat my own dogfood, take my advise myself and head over to expedia to check current the airfares.
I wish you “pretty” good light!