Quote Originally Posted by msbarnes View Post
interested in venturing into this area. As of now I'm reading random articles on the internet, a few from strobists.com, and I'm browsing flickr. My sole interest is in portraits/fashion work but at the hobbyist level, not professional, so keep that in mind. I'm not trying to go cheap but I do not want to overspend. I'm thinking monolights, reflectors, modifiers, that type of stuff, with a starting budget of around 1k. Maybe less or more. I'm not here to seek advice in what I should get or which brands are better but just advice in figuring out what I want.

A lot of information to digest and I'm nowhere near purchasing as I'm trying to figure out my needs/requirements. I might just end up going with cheap speedlights in the end of my research.
Monolights have come a long way since the old days where they were huge, clunky beasts. I greatly prefer them to a pack and head arrangement, as the only cord that runs to the pack is a power cord, which is easily extended with a non-proprietary extension cord. Plus, the advantage of being able to vary the power of one head without affecting the power of another (something most packs still don't do unless you are dropping some serious cash) is a huge plus.

For this reason I would also advise against speed lights. There is so little power and control that it's just not worth it. Modifiers are expensive and clunky to use. Add to that you can pick up a used monolight for about the price of a new speed light. I know some people love the whole speed light thing but it would just drive me nuts. Invest your money wisely and you will be happy for a long time.

My suggestion is to start with two monolights, a couple of cheap umbrellas, some grid spots and maybe one soft box. Add a silver/white reflector and you are in business. I'm a White Lighting guy, and I just freaking wear those things out. They are amazingly reliable; worth every penny. I have made a lot of money with my five lights.

As far as learning lighting goes, nothing beats a digital camera. That's your Polaroid. If you want to shoot a final version on film, you'll be very happy that you didn't spend four rolls to get the light just right.

Lighting is the soul of photography. You'll be a much better photographer for all the time you invest in it.