10 Photography ideas you can do with one light

You don’t always need a lot of equipment to get creative when it comes to photography. Even if you’re stuck at home (as many of us are at the moment), there are plenty of things you can do to test your skills and develop your creativity using just one light.

I’ve put together a list of 10 of our most popular photography classes that you can try yourself at home. Each of these classes are a great way to challenge your creativity and test your skills.

1. One light portrait photography setups

One light portrait photography lighting setups
This portrait image was taken using a single softbox, showing how you can get creative using just one light.

If you’re stuck at home with a partner or even a friend, why not pass the time by practising portrait photography. We have a selection of one-light portrait photography setups for you to try, each of which makes use of just standard, affordable equipment and can be done in a small studio or space.

2. Natural light portraiture with flash

Natural light photography with flash
An example of creative portrait photography, achieved by mixing daylight and flash from one speedlite.

If you can, why not get out in the garden or go to your nearest park for some outdoor portrait photography. You can do these types of portrait shoots with a studio light, or even a speedlite. This is a great way to test your understanding of using flash as well as how shutter speed and aperture work in conjunction when using flash.

3. Still life photography challenge

Still life photography is a great way to get creative and is easy to do at home with minimal equipment.

If photographing people isn’t really your thing, why not try different still life photography ideas to challenge yourself and see how many different ways you can photograph one item, like I did for my ‘Lighting Control — The Egg Challenge’ live show. Photographing just one item is a great way to test your control of lighting to see how many creative ideas you can come up with.

4. Liquid bubbles

Liquid bubbles photography
You don't even need studio lights to get creative; this image was shot using one speedlite.

Bubble images such as this are a great way to get creative and aren’t as complex to shoot as you might think. Why not take some inspiration from the famous O2 Bubbles, shot by product photographer Jonathan Knowles, and try this setup for yourself and see what you can come up with. All you’ll need is your camera, a speedlite and a tank.

5. Liquid in motion using one light

Water splash photography
Splash shots can be a creative and fun way to test your knowledge; all you need is some liquid and a light.

Splash shots, even simple ones like this, are a great way to have fun while testing your understanding of light and flash speed. Achievable with just a single light, the creative possibilities are endless. As you’ll see in our ‘Liquid Art And Motion’ live show, you can add an additional element of interest by colouring the liquid, or even introducing glasses. If you don’t quite have the space to throw liquid around, you could also try this quick and easy splash shot using just one speedlite shown in the video below.

6. One light lipsticks in paint product shoot

These two images prove that you don't need many lights to get great results, even for product photography.

Both of these images, believe it or not, were created using just one studio light, which goes to show that you really don’t need multiple lights to get shoot professional product photography. Shoots like this, although simple, are a great way to test your creativity. You can experiment with different products, colours and composition to see what you come up with. 

7. One light watch photography

Watch photography with one light
Watch photography, although notoriously difficult, is still perfectly possible with just one light.

Watches can be difficult products to photograph, not least because of their highly reflective surfaces. However, with careful control and a good knowledge of lighting, it’s perfectly possible to shoot high-end watch photography using just one light, as you’ll see in this class.

8. Macro photography

Creative macro photography
Put a creative twist on macro photography and try this shot, which only needs a glass tabletop and speedlite.

Macro photography is one of the easiest ways to get creative, especially if you’re stuck inside. From flowers to pencil tips, there’s a whole host of items you could use as the subject. In this photography class I show you how to use a speedlite to capture an amazing abstract macro photo using a simple tabletop setup.

9. One light food photography

Many of our food photography classes can be done with one light, or even window light.

You don’t need amazing culinary skills to photograph food at home, and you definitely don’t need a multitude of lights. In fact, many of the food shots in this style can be done with just window light if you know what you’re doing. You’ll find a variety of food photography classes on our site, many of which use only one light and are easily achievable in any small space.

10. Painting with light

Light painting image
If you can get out, why not try painting with light. All you need is your camera, a tripod and torch.

Although it doesn’t typically make use of your traditional studio light or speedlite, painting with light is another creative photography idea you could try with minimal equipment. If you’re able to get out, all you’ll need is your camera, a tripod and a powerful torch. If you’re already confident shooting long exposures for night photography, this is a great way to add an extra element of creativity while testing your knowledge of shutter speed, aperture and exposure.

For even more ideas for photoshoots you can do at home, make sure to take a look at my list of 10 creative photoshoots to do at home.

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For more photography ideas and inspiration, you'll find a range of photography classes throughout our site. Many of these are achievable even with one light and are suitable for those working in small spaces. Below are just a few more ideas you may want to try.

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