Do the math. You're not going to light the grandmother of the year for an article in the hometown Daily Astonisher with a ring light*. It doesn't matter if you just got the ring light from B&H and you're dying to use it.
Grandma's got to be lit softly, gently. Save the ring light for the local tattoo queen, or Mr. Lifto from the Jim Rose Circus. Light speaks, just like language. You can make someone look like an angel, or the devil. Take a look at Arnold Newman's famous portrait of Krupp, the German industrialist. Light speaks louder than words.
[HOW TO GET THIS TYPE OF SHOT: Lifto's an intense guy, so the light is intense. He's onstage a lot, and he's pretty theatrical, hence the light is low, mimicking the footlights of a theater, sparking his face and eyes. It's also very controlled light, a head with a honeycomb spot grid* on it, so it does not spill evenly. Notice his hands and arms fade out of the highlight. The human eye wants to go to light areas, so my light tells you, stick with his face, that's where the action is.]
*Ring Light: A circular light source that wraps around the barrel of the lens. Produces a hard, shadowless light. Very popular with fashion photogs.
*Honeycomb Spot Grid: A circular metal grid (that looks like a honeycomb) that goes over your strobe head and limits the spread of the light.
Excerpted from: The Moment It Clicks. Photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters. By Joe McNally, Copyright 2008 Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders.