Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lange View Post
Just be careful when disconnecting/connecting a head to a pack and make sure that the pack is powered off and discharged...otherwise a nasty shock is in store for you.
That's one of the reasons I would recommend monolights, like White Lightning or even ALien Bees. Since you aren't tied in to a central power pack, you have a lot more flexibility in both the placement of the lights and the power settings for each head. I have 5 WL Ultras that I have been working like dogs for 10 years. In that time I've only replaced one flash tube and sent two heads in for new capacitors (which PCB replaced for a trifling $50 each). They are totally reliable, and PCB will always take care of you.

As for learning, polyglot mentioned Light, Science and Magic which is one of the best lighting books, ever. Marc Hauser's Bold and Simple
taught me a lot about lighting for portraits.

The main thing is to get a reliable setup -- two lights is a great place to start -- and just get to work. Make tons of portraits and you'll learn quickly, especially if you're willing to just shoot digital for a while. The instant feedback really works wonders. Any time I shoot MF or LF portraits, digital is my Polaroid.