Lighting for mobile photography

A new group of visual communications students are out on the streets. They graduated in December. Each semester the vis com faculty throw a party where students unveil their graduation portfolios.

f15 gradsT

Visual Communications #UofSC #SJMC students graduating in December 2015 gather for a portfolio party. For their portrait, they turned on their smartPhone flashlights and aimed turned them on themselves. Photo taken with iPhone 5s by Van Kornegay.


Since most phones these days have a flashlight, I often enlist bystanders to light my photos. For the group photo of the students they held their own lights, but that’s usually a bit awkward. I prefer to have someone off-camera hold it, aiming it at the subject’s face. Otherwise I can borrow someone’s flashlight-phone and hold it myself at arm’s length like an 0ff-camera flash.

I usually have a small LED flashlight in my car. It also makes a great off-camera light. They’re super cheap, easy to carry, and the batteries and bulbs last forever. I like low maintenance. If you want to spend more money, there are a lot of LED video lights the market with a wide range of power and control-ability.


An LED bicycle headlight is an easy upgrade from a standard flashlight. Use the loop  to wear it like brass knuckles so it’s always handy during a shoot. (Thanks to photographer and biker Shawn Rocco for this brilliant tip.)


About mcgillmedia

I take pictures and teach other people how to do it, too.
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