Portable Strobe Kit
Westcott 2001 43-Inch Optical White Satin Collapsible Umbrella – These handy little umbrellas fold down really small and fit in my carry-on bag just fine. They are quite fragile, and I’ve replaced a few of them after they get blown over and bent up. For the price they serve their purpose. Umbrellas are great for blasting softer light in all directions. Not the most precise of lighting modifiers, but for photographing large groups on location a good umbrella is probably your best bet.
Flash Hot Shoe Umbrella Holder adapter mount – This sturdy adapter mounts on top of a light stand and does the duty of holding your umbrella as well as your speedlight flash.
Yongnuo YN-560 II Speedlight Flash for Canon and Nikon. GN58. – You can spend hundreds of dollars on a Canon or Nikon name brand flash, but the Yongnuo YN-560 seems to be the goto flash for photographers who don’t care about name brands. Seriously, this flash is durable, packs plenty of power for most situations, and is a fraction of the cost of other speedlights.
Manfrotto 5001B 74-Inch Nano Stand – We’re going for portability here again. I almost always pack two of these light stands in my kit. They are super handy if you just need to place a flash and don’t have an assistant to hold one, which is 99% of the time in the work I do.
PocketWizard PlusX Wireless Radio Flash Remote Trigger – There are several ways to trigger flashes when you press your shutter release button. I find the most reliable way is to use PocketWizards. The PlusX version has 10 channels so if you are ever shooting around other photographers you can avoid having them trigger your flashes. I pack three of these. One mounts to the hot shoe on your camera, on one on each speedlight. I use a rubber band to strap the PocketWizard to the top of each YN-560 flash. Each PocketWizard comes with the little cable that connects the PocketWizard to the flash. The YN-560 flashes can also be triggered as a slave, meaning that they will go off if they detect another flash going off. I’ve had mixed results with this feature especially outdoors. I find it easiest to just have a PocketWizard on each flash and get nearly 100% reliability.
SMDV DIFF60 Speedbox Diffuser – Read my Full Review Here. The new SMDV’s Diffuser60 is a high-quality professional hexagonal soft box for off camera flashes that creates a quality soft diffused light. Its patented folding system allows the box to be setup and taken down very quickly like folding an umbrella. The soft box shell is made from a rip stop style nylon to minimize wear and tear.
If you are looking at getting started in a good set of studio strobes, I can highly recommend all of the products by Paul C Buff. The Alien Bee line is relatively inexpensive and there is a large selection of lighting modifiers available.