Super Nimble FlashPole for Portraits on the Go


Sometimes your lighting has to move as quickly as your subjects. My FlashPole rig is a variation on a setup I saw a wedding photographer use on location in San Francisco. It requires an assistant, and the results are terrific.

My kit includes the Manfrotto Compact Xtreme 2-in-1 Monopod & Pole, flash mounted on a bracket, wireless trigger, and a 27" photo umbrella. The lighting is attached on the "selfie end" of the Manfrotto pole (or the ground end of the monopod) so your assistant has a solid grip for holding the rig.


The pole can be extended for when the lighting needs to be at a high angle, and collapsed for low angle positioning. Thanks to the excellent design of the Manfrotto Xtreme, the rig is very balanced and easy to hold for long periods of time. When the shoot is finished, the entire kit collapses into a highly totable bundle.


As for the results, it's studio lighting in an outdoor setting. Standard light stands are too cumbersome for these types of assignments, plus any puff of wind will blow them over. And young subjects just don't have the patience for you to fiddle with your gear.

PB212876.jpg Family portrait captured with the FlashPole rig. OM-D E-M5 Mark II with Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 zoom. All Photos by Derrick Story.

I prefer to set my lighting manually and use manual exposure on the camera. That way I can lock-in the mix of ambient lighting with just the right amount of output from the flash, and not worry about random TTL readings that might provide inconsistent results. Plus this approach allows me to use inexpensive strobes and triggers.

The FlashPole rig works well for event coverage, weddings, and outdoor portraits. It's inexpensive, and very easy to use. I also use the Manfrotto Xtreme for high angle photography. Check out the article, Aerial Photography Without a Drone.

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The FlashPole has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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