My first attempt at studio lighting involved a paint-covered set of garage lights. You know, the kind that will burn your house down when you’re not looking? I wasn’t a working photographer at the time and wanted to try out the whole studio lighting thing. I was shooting film so I knew the lights needed to be very bright to give me the exposure I needed, thus the high-beam garage lights. I used a white bedsheet in front of the lights to soften and diffuse the light, which seemed like a good idea until the smell of a smoking sheet alerted me to the fact that I had it a little too close to the lights.
It wasn’t the safest lighting situation, but it solidified for me that perennial pearl of photographic wisdom, light is light.
Regardless of the source, be it sunlight or flash, light is the medium and our job is to manipulate that medium until we get a look that we like. In the end, it all comes down to one thing, how does it look?
Get a light—rent one, borrow one, buy one. Put it on a stand, set your camera’s sync speed, and start experimenting with light. Make some really bad pictures and learn from those mistakes. Start somewhere.