One Light Challenge Product Photo Shoot

In this live show, Karl demonstrates how itโ€™s possible to achieve a high-end product shoot using only one light!

Proving itโ€™s not about how much equipment you have but rather how you use the equipment you do have, Karl shows the step-by-step process of photographing lipsticks, making a one-light setup look like a three-light setup.

Throughout the show Karl covers useful techniques for photographing cosmetic products, such as creating gradient lighting, using reflectors and flags, controlling your background light and how to use long exposures for product photography.

This is a fascinating live show that will teach any photographer, whether you have one light or five, valuable skills you can apply in your photography.

In this class you will learn:

  • Product photography tips
  • Product photography with one light
  • Creating gradient lighting
  • How to use reflectors and flags for product photography
  • Controlling background lights using the inverse square law and direction of light
  • Long exposures for product photography

For more product photography classes, make sure to take a look at our product photography section.

If you have any questions about this show, please use the comments section below.


  1. hi, I would like to know why by hiding or covering the lens while the shutter was processing and your assistant was changing the light position on the background didn’t effect the picture by turning it blackout since you covered the lens? thanks

  2. hi, please I would like to know the idea about hiding or covering the lens while the shutter was processing and till your assistant was changing the light position on the background? that’s was a lovely trick ..thanks

  3. Is there post production with this course? I have seen the images where the visible edge of the shelf is slanting backwards and would love to know how to do this. It looks so natural and I cannot replicate it in Photoshop.

    1. Hi Chris, I don’t quite understand your question but am happy to help when I do? The final shot which you can find on my site hasn’t had a huge about of post work? the one you’ll find on my site was the alternative version I shot with 6 lights as a comparison. Are you getting mixed up with a different shot I did with two lipsticks on the ledge? Cheers Karl.

        1. Hi Chris, that’s not a photoshop effect that’s the angle I had the ledge made. This is not the shot from the live show this is a different shot that wasn’t a tutorial on KTE. I had this angle shape made by a sign makers from matt acrylic. Cheers Karl.

          1. Ah right, I see. I was mistaken. Thanks for the replies.

          2. Hi Chris, no problem. For your information I regularly have shapes cut from acrylic by sign makers. Often two sides is enough and then you can stick them to a block and carefully align them.

  4. Ciao Karl, I loved this show and how you captured the glow at the end of it. I am really learning a lot from you since one month I subscribed. One question: with one light there is also the chance to work in PS with “lighten” mode. Do you see any difference in taking other shots with the glow and then to merge them? It would have worked for the glow for example…but it would have been much less exciting than to see your tecnique! Very impressive ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi, thank you yes it’s possible to merge exposures and many product photographs do that. Look out for the new tutorial on the black motorbike.

    1. Hi Pippin, we have them made. Basically when there’s anything we need out of metal we go to our local metal workshop with a sketch and ask them to make it, whether that’s frames for car photography rigs, background supports or simple objects. If we need things out of wood or plastic for props on product shoots we go to our local sign service company. Much of this is explained in our other product shoots. Regards Karl.

  5. Great demo Karl. It’s great to see how the shot evolves and the small tweaks you make that can have high impact changes.

  6. Is there anything like the Hasselblad Extension Tubes H in the Canon Range?
    I only know Canons Extenders 1.4x and 2.0x but they are only make the focal length longer as I believe.

    1. Hi Yes there should be but you don’t need the Canon ones as they’re is no glass they are just simple spacers. I use the Kenko ones and they work perfectly well.

  7. I can barely watch your videos now in lowest resolution. Even then It stucks all 2 minutes for 30s. why is that? Every other site I am on I have perfect downloadrate. Is UK-Internet shortened down?

  8. I also would love for you to tell me off. Road trip to the USA. Bahaha! Awesome tutorial. This challenge was an excellent way on how you can change light. Amazing on how people criticize you for having all different studio equipment. Youโ€™ve worked hard to get where you are. ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘ Thank You….

    1. Thank you. I can understand that some people think that you need a lot of kit to get results but that is often an excuse for not having enough knowledge or being creative enough. This show was the perfect ‘excuse eliminator’ and demonstrated how even with one light (could have even been a speedlite) what you can achieve by applying knowledge to the problem. Glad you enjoyed it.

  9. Hi Karl

    On the subject of Product ( and perhaps also Food ) photography, to what extent do you consider the space you create round the product for someone wanting to add Graphics
    or text

    Is it just a matter of experience or is this worked out beforehand with the client and/or his graphic designers so that you know exactly where to position the product in the shot.

    I know it is said many times but I can only repeat that this education course is by far the best that has ever been available and I hope it will continue.

    Allan Paul

    1. Hi Allan, thank you for your comments about our platform. With regards your question yes in advertising photography the layout is usually predefined where the words / logos are going. If you are working with a smaller client (no art director /agency) then it’s good for you to discuss this with them.

  10. Comment on capturing tethered with Capture One. Capture One supports Canon, Nikon, Fuji and Sony for capturing tethered. Which models are supported you can find on the website. All models that are supported than have live view as well. No need to search for a workaround to get live view and tethered capturing capability.

    I use Sony RII/III cameras in the studio. They work very well and stable with Capture One. Same applies to the other brands as far as I know. When you plan to invest in a new camera system and you need tethered shooting capabilites, than the combo of Capture One and one of the above mentioned brands is the way to go. In studio it makes a huge difference if you can shoot tethered in terms. Since I am able to, I cannot imagine doing it without anymore. Capture One is not only a great RAW converter, it is has a lot of special tethered shooting features that Lightroom does not provide and all the proprietary camera solutions do not provide, except Hasselblads Phocus Software … but that is Karls territory.

  11. Hi Karl, thanks for that comprehensive summary on the physics of light and perceptual psychology, balancing out all the visual elements so that the heroe of the shot has the most visual weight. And all that done with one active light source. Reminds me that I have to get a couple of make up mirrors (by the way concave, convex would scatter the light). Very handy little pieces. Great photographer, great teacher, great team.

  12. Absolute genius, Karl. You are welcome to come to my house any time to โ€œtell me offโ€. My door is always open to your teaching.

  13. Hi Karl and team,

    I have just signed up to your education service and watched my first video and would like to thank everyone involved in an excellent demonstration teaching what can be achieved with a single light source and the understanding of how light works.

    Unfortunately I was unable to attend the live chat this time but looking forward to the next one, may ask did you remove all ambient light for this demonstration?



  14. Congratulations to the videographer, he managed to film the whole tutorial with focus 5-6m on the background ๐Ÿ™‚

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