Even a single off-camera flash, used with an umbrella or softbox, can make dramatic, pro-level portraits. The placement of the camera, light, and subject will give you different effects.
• A diffused light at a 45-degree angle to the subject will provide mostly even illumination with some soft shadows.
• A softbox or umbrella at a right angle to the subject and camera gives a hard, textured lighting to the subject.
• Regardless of the lighting angle, catchlights in the eyes are important. Check your LCD to make sure you’ve got them.
• If you love the lighting, but don’t have catchlights, try positioning a small reflector near the lens to add them in.
Adapted from Lighting for Portrait Photography by Steve Bavister (Rotovision, 2007; $35)