What I mean by this are mains powered lights, usually strobe (flashing) rather than continuous as continuous lights get hot especially at high power. The advantage of these is that they don’t use up batteries and re-charge very quickly. They are more powerful than flashes too, and many come with a smaller beauty light – a continuous light that helps you check the direction of the light and see that the shadows are in the right place.
The best way to buy these is in a studio lighting kit – depending on how many heads you want. There are typically 2-head, 3-head and 4-head kits. The kit will normally include some light modifiers like umbrellas or softboxes and light stands. There are a range of prices to suit most budgets with the main difference being light power (250W, 350W etc) and build quality. By buying a kit you can also get a suitable bag to hold everything.
A relatively cheap addition to go along with studio lights is a backdrop. A pair of tall stands and a cloth screen – maybe white, black or chroma-key green – that can be fixed to a cross-bar and provide a continuous plain background.
When combined with studio lights or flash lights you can start to produce some very professional looking white background or black background portraits and have some fun with a green screen too!
Tomorrow I’ll list some of the light modifiers that you might want to consider.