The Satellite

A portable light source for photography that emulates studio lighting and encourages creativity

What's the big idea?

The Satellite was created to allow photographers to emulate studio style lighting outside of the studio, using neutral white high power LEDs.  The concept was designed for student and hobbyist photographers interested in experimenting with advanced lighting techniques, from macro to portraiture lighting. Multiple Satellite units can be used in the same picture to provide lighting from many directions, and the easily positionable nature of the units makes them ideal for introducing creative ways of lighting. This is complemented by the ability to add color filters to each unit.

Describe the nearest player in your field.

A flash unit is the most common way to add light into a picture for lower light photography. These are made by a variety of companies from Nikon to Canon to Vivitar. Studio lighting is the other typical way to control light, which are also produced by a variety of companies.

How are you different from that player?

The Satellite is designed to provide an affordable and portable alternative to existing ways of lighting. Wireless flash units used for directional lighting are costly, and studio lights don’t move. The Satellite provides a continuous source of light, making planning and taking the picture simple.

How does this idea scale into a big business?

As the only product of it’s kind for photography, this has the potential to be a steady product line sold on websites such as Photojojo or B&H. If the Satellite is successful, I want to use it to start a business to create well designed, approachable products with a team of creative, driven people.

Why are you the one to run with this idea?

I’m a photographer that loves playing with light, either in low light or light painting. Over the years my biggest struggle has been a way to consistently control light in an outdoors or low light shot, so I designed the Satellite as a means to change this.

What is a $5,000 experiment you can do to move your idea forward?

The Start Garden funding would be used to further test the design and create multiple sets of working prototypes to be given to a few photographers for trial in the field. After being fully tested, the Satellite will be placed on Kickstarter to gain a larger audience and funding for full production.

There have been 25 replies to this page

  1. Karen Hansen

    Great idea!!! :)

  2. Tim Campbell

    As a hobby photographer I think The Satellite would be a great alternative to a flash to be able to tailor how the subject is lit.

  3. Comson Chen

    Sounds like a great idea! I am a hobby photographer as well. I found it from time to time it is difficult to set up a flash/umbrella combo in a small space. A large light box costs a lot and it is not easy to transport. What kind of power source do you use for this?

  4. Ian Geiman


    Thanks for the feedback! Comson, it is powered by AA batteries for convenience.

  5. Jeanette Hendeliowitz

    this is such a great new invention

  6. Richard Koenig

    Great idea! Can’t wait to see it work.

  7. RickandDawn Hexemer

    Looks like a great and very unique invention.  Look forward to seeing this brought to the marketplace!

  8. Doug Averill

    Very interesting and innovative.

  9. Patrick Hurley

    Good luck, you might want to reconsider the shape—it is not the most efficient for packing in my bag. Either that or some up with a cool companion product that can hold a couple nano-light stands and the Satellite.

  10. Robert Beech

    Cool idea.  Would like to see it in person.  How about adding a threaded nut so It could mount onto a light stand if needed?

  11. Ian Geiman


    Thanks for the feedback! Patrick, I’ve been thinking of ways to hold the Satellites, they may end up being stretch goals on Kickstarter.
    Robert, the threaded nut has already been incorporated into the design, it didn’t make it into the email! I’m also planning on providing a hot shot to tripod adapter so the Satellite can sit on top of the camera if need be.

  12. Leo Tallieu

    This product is an excellent idea and I would love to be able to use one.  It would be invaluable under certain conditions.

  13. Matt Kaiser

    This is an awesome idea. Small and looks really cool. Any predictions on final cost of a unit? I love pocket strobes (or speedlites) because they’re so portable and handy, but like you said, they’re expensive. If you get the start garden funding I’d like to submit my application now to be a prototype tester. :D

  14. Ian Geiman


    Matt, the final cost is estimated to be around 30 dollars per unit right now. I won’t know for sure until later on in the process. Thanks for the support!

  15. Joanne Neely Buchman

    Wow, soooo cool…I am a hobby photographer as well…This would be such a great alternative to light boxes, umbrellas, etc. which I own none of…I could see buying several of these and experimenting!!  Good luck…and hope to see these on the market soon to purchase!!!

  16. Marji Wynne

    Sounds wonderful.  I can’t wait to actually see it and try it out….I can’t afford more speed lights, or any of the other lighting accessories out there now…...I would buy two….

  17. Steven Brady

    Yes Ian, you have a Great Idea. Hope to see this on the market soon.

  18. John Clay

    Really brilliant. If you pull this off and get a $30 price point you will be extremely successful, Will you have a reception port for screwing it onto a tripod?

  19. Amy Olsen

    This is a wonderful idea!  Can’t wait until I can buy some!!

  20. Winnie Chrzanowski

    Where do I get one?

  21. Ian Geiman


    Thanks for the feedback!

    John, yes it will be able to be placed on a tripod.

    Winnie, after testing with working prototypes and finalizing the design, the project will go up on People will be able to back the project and order a number of Satellites there! I’ll create a mailing list so interested people can keep in touch.

  22. Julia Ferry

    Love the idea!  I would also volunteer to test it for you :)

    The current competition though is the torchlight—Adorma carries it for the Doug Gordon price of $459—B&H has a much cheaper version.

    Would the clustering of the LEDs be any different?  It might be cool to have an option to have it deep set in the housing for an almost deep octabank look and feel. Maybe also offer a diffusion sock to set you apart from the competition. Good luck!

  23. Ian Geiman


    Julia, yes the Satellite doesn’t need to use as many LEDs because of their intensity, so it won’t be a large grid of them. There will also be a diffusion filter that comes with the Satellite! Thanks for the link, I hadn’t been able to find anything like that before. I’m nearly out of character count for the nearest player section though, and as the DG torchlight isn’t as commonly used as flash or studio lighting I’ll leave it for now as student and hobbyist photographers aren’t as inclined to use such an expensive piece of equipment. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!

  24. Terri Ashe-Maenza

    This is a very creative solution. Good luck!

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This idea was funded by Start Garden staff endorsement on August 08, 2013.