Simple, Portable Lighting Setups for Remote Photography Locations

Photography clients don’t always have the time or budget to accommodate elaborate photo shoot setups, and some locations make using heavy equipment infeasible. However, dramatic, high-quality images can be made with portable, inexpensive equipment. Master photographers are able to use this simple, mobile photography gear to make it seem as if they’ve hauled expensive studio lights to a remote setting. In this video, Joe McNally explains the minimalistic lighting setup he used to photograph performance artist Deidre Dean in a burnt out New Mexico forest:

McNally’s lighting diagram simplifies his setup. He used a 14-24mm zoom lens, a Speedlight Commander, and three speedlights shot through a Lastolite 8-in-1 Umbrella with its covers removed. Shooting three strobes through the umbrella resulted in faster recycling time and more power to simulate a larger light source.

The secret tool utilized during this photo shoot can be purchased in a hardware store: a Shur-Line extendable paint pole. Using a paint pole in combination with a Kacey Pole Adapter allowed McNally to mount a triflash and have an assistant position the main light as high as necessary to create an impressive photograph.


Creativity with tools that aren’t necessarily designed with photography in mind saves money while allowing portability. Being able to light a scene well even in hard-to-reach locations can make any photographer stand out from the competition.

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