The two photos above are pretty similar, right? Stylistically I was trying to match them as close as I could for this experiment. Of the two pictures, which one do you think used an iPhone flashlight as the main light source? Is it hard to guess? Well if you said the picture of me on the left, you would be correct. Both photos are simple in set up but have very different gear used.
The point of this post is to show that you don’t need expensive gear to get good results. Yes, it might help you get better results, but both of these images came out identical and most people would never know the difference.
The image of my brother on the right was shot as an experiment for a light kit I bought a while back. I put him next to a white wall (on the right of the frame, which gives the fill light on that side) and set the light a few feet away from him on the left of the frame. I then set up a 5-in-1 reflector on the black side to give the black background. All in all, this photo came out great and I use it in my portfolio.
The photo on the left is a self-portrait I did of myself for my 365 project. I currently don’t have the space to keep my lighting kit set up and with that being the case, I started experimenting with using my iPhone flashlight for my main light source. I have been very pleased with the results and wondered if it was strong enough to be used for a portrait.
With that in mind, I made a similar set up as the other image. I put my phone in an older version of the Glif tripod attachment and placed it left of frame and set up a white bounce board to the right of the frame. The iPhone is not very strong in comparison to the light kit, but by using a really slow shutter speed (half a second), I was able to get a similar amount of light in the image.
Here are the full images side by side:
Overall, I would say the iPhone results are comparable to the professional light kit. Yes, there is a bit of a difference, and I would not be using the iPhone set up on a client shoot, but as I said before, this was to illustrate the point that you don’t need high-end gear to get great results. In this example I used an iPhone flashlight, but any phone flashlight should produce similar results.
If you’re using something like a phone flashlight that isn’t very bright, you can switch your settings and do a long exposure to gain more light. There are pros and cons to this, but overall it’s a nice way to use things you already have. This isn’t a replacement for real lighting equipment, but it is something you already have. Here are more pictures I’ve taken using my iPhone flashlight as the main light source: