Posted at 13:05h
Hot shoe lighting has its moments, good and bad. There is no denying the convenience and mobility of speedlites over studio strobes, especially when a photographer spends the bulk of their shooting time on-location. Ditching the strobes and running with speedlites for a shoot literally empties out what is usually a gear-packed car. I can actually see out my back window! Hot shoe lighting is significantly smaller in size, lighter in weight, faster to setup and teardown, and usually translates to a quicker shoot. These are the things I love about speedlites. The other side of the coin are the dislikes, the things that can drive me nuts. Lack of power, misfires, and slow recycle times can get downright ugly at times when you start asking these lights to start doing some real work. My mentality on this may be a bit distorted, as I was spoiled by having the opportunity to start my lighting journey with studio strobes. I used AlienBees for years before ever even feeling the desire to want to use speedlites for my shoots. It was always a "go big or go home" situation for me. I wanted the power the strobes could give me if I needed it. This meant a car stuffed with 200 lbs of lights, cables, power packs, stands, and big light modifiers. It was a game of Tetris to get everything to fit in my car, literally. Big power came with the price of numerous trips back and fourth to the car to fetch bulky, heavy gear, cables running all over the place on-location, gear bags everywhere, and all of that had to be done in the reverse order when it came time to pack it all back up. It sucks, but it's worth it. In fact, it's "worth it" to still continue the same song and dance with all the strobe downsides to use them for 80% of my shoots. Ironically, even though I use my strobes on most location shoots, I call all of my strobe gear my "studio gear" and I call my speedlite gear my "mobile gear." So when I ask Alice, my amazing assistant, for a mobile light, it's kind of like a moment where I know she goes, "oh crap, he needs to pump out a photograph super quick," and urgency is automatically applied to the situation. It's funny but true, as most of my speedlite setups are very much run and gun. Seriously... most of the time when using hot shoes we don't even take the time to put the light on a stand, and Alice hand-holds as we continually move and reposition.