Everyday Carry Essentials: Lightweight Lights


If you are a photographer who shoots on the go and prefers to travel light, artificial lighting is probably not a part of your daily carry. However, there are countless situations where a shot requires more than available light—whether as a primary source or to add fill. Luckily, there are many compact lighting solutions to keep you prepared for these scenarios without weighing you down.

Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight

On-Camera Flash

The tried-and-true standby for portable lighting is the on-camera flash. If you are working at close range or in need of a little fill, this is the way to go. Add TTL capabilities and you will be street-ready in no time. The utility of your flash increases exponentially the farther you can move it from the shoe mount on your camera. TTL cords serve as an inexpensive yet monumental first step. Take a tip from wedding and event photographers and pair one with a flash bracket so you can position your light around your camera without having to worry about holding it in place. For ultimate flexibility, pair your flash with a compatible wireless remote. This will allow you to place your light anywhere it is needed without the clutter of cords.

Rogue Photographic Design Rogue Gels Universal Lighting Filter Kit

Flash Modifiers

Once you have the basics covered, there are many ways to modify flash lighting without taking up much extra space in your gear bag. Diffusers , bounce cards, and domes are popular add-ons for softening the quality of light coming from your flash. For more creative applications, gels provide a means of adding a splash of color to your subject. Nearly every type of studio light modifier has been adapted for flash use; see a complete list here.

Profoto B10 OCF Flash Head

Battery-Powered Strobes

Sometimes you need more light or speed than a flash is capable of providing. Lugging around studio-strength strobes was once a guaranteed way to end your week at a chiropractor’s office. Today, battery-powered strobes keep getting smaller and lighter, making them increasingly viable for everyday carry. Profoto’s B10 OCF Flash Head is a prime example of a strobe that provides more power than a flash while maintaining an impressively compact build and relatively low weight. No matter how light your strobe might be, it still requires either an extra set of hands or light stand to support it and a compatible remote to fire it. If your camera bag includes straps for a tripod, you can get away with carrying a collapsible light stand with minimal annoyance.

Rotolight RL48 Interview Kit V2

Continuous Lights

If you split your time between photo and video, consider packing an LED light in your bag. LEDs are available in many compact forms, making them ideal light sources for everyday use. On-camera LEDs mount like flashes onto your camera’s shoe mount, keeping your hands free. Like on-camera flashes, there are numerous accessories designed to make the most out of your on-camera LED.

Lume Cube 1500 Lumen Light

If you are looking to go extra small, Lume Cube and LITRA offer ultra-compact LED lights that can fit into tiny positions when necessary while taking up next to no space in your bag. Handheld light wands are another unique form factor if you are trying to maximize output while minimizing space.

What is your favorite light to pack in an EDC bag? We’d really like to know. Use the Comments section to tell us about your preferences.


What if you need only enough light to focus because you want to keep the ambiance?  I carry a Zebra flashlight that is daylight balanced and takes a single battery. I take over the lens to let even less light out. the camera can see in the dark but cannot focus in it, this little light helps me get well focused images at 100,000 ISO.  I see no light here for such a purpose.

Good point! That could come in handy in a variety of ways. Thanks for adding to the list.