Ah, the power of three. There’s something pleasing about that number. Even though it isn’t even, it usually is just enough to get what you need.
Key Light, Fill Light, & Back Light
One of the most done studio setups of all time. There’s a reason it’s been used for so many years by so many different photographers. It works. The results are solid. And it’s incredibly simple to set up. Your main light is in front of your subject, slightly to the side, your fill on the other side, & your back light behind them and skimming their head.
Since the above is so well known, let’s try 3 other arrangements.
2 Side Lights & a Front Light
Place 1 light on one side of your subject and the other directly opposite it. Use your third light as a center key light facing the subject. All of your shadows will be diminished and this will give you a very high key look.
2 Back Lights & a Front Light
Place 1 light slightly to the side, yet behind the subject. Put the second light on the other side. For your front light, place it further than normal and a bit higher than the subject. This will give you deep shadows and provide a very low key look.
2 Front Lights & a Back Light
Place 1 light high up in the center front of your subject. Put the second directly below it facing up at them. The third should be directly behind them (also center aligned) which will provide a halo effect.
So if you do eventually wind up with three lights, try playing with these setups as well as the classic one!
May the light be with you.