I chose this camera as an example of the sort of camera frequently found in the hands of the volunteer event photographers I often meet. The D40 and the subsequent iterations ( The D3xxx and D5xxx series) are similar in operation but offer more pixels, a real improvement. The basic kit lens is pretty much remains the same, and is perfectly adequate for this kind of shooting.
The Flash: From here out, my selection of the bits becomes more diverse. The flash is a Vivitar 283 modified to use a flash tube that is parallel, not perpendicular to, the lens axis. When used with a parabolic reflector, hot spots on the subject's face are reduced. My particular unit has a 1/4 CTO filter to improve flesh tones. The 283 is not a TTL flash, but instead utilizes a built-in forward-facing sensor to dollop out the proper exposure when used with a specific ISO/aperture combination. Because of the high triggering voltage typical of Vivitar flashes, a Wein Safe Sync was installed between the hot shoe and the flash to protect the camera from being "fried". A PC/Household cable was used to connect the two because the Vivitar has a Holly aluminum replacement foot. Because the Safe Sync does not have the Speedlight Present contact, the outfit could synchronize the flash at almost any speed. Nearly any flash can be used for this type of work, as long as the trigger voltage is low enough. My use of the bare tube modified Vivitar was a matter of convenience.
The Bracket: The final key component of this system is the flash bracket (QRS-35, now discontinued) made by Custom Brackets. You can see that it raises the flash well above the lens axis, giving more pronounced shadows and softer highlights. If I was only making a few images, I wouldn't bother with the bracket and would simply hold the flash aloft with my free hand. But with my goal of 200 shots in one hour, working without a bracket would quickly get pretty tiring. Flash brackets have fallen from vogue in recent years, and can be found at camera shows at very reasonable prices. The best ones center the flash directly over the lens, and some allow the camera to rotate while maintaining the flash's location high over the camera.
The QB (Custom Brackets) are expensive, but they make a quality product. The are manufactured from machined aluminum with brass screws when needed, and are rugged. You can find brackets that are much cheaper, but the quality isn't any where near that of the QB. Stroboframe brackets are excellent, too.
You can see in Photo #7 that the hot spot is mostly covered by the subjects. The slight downward angle of the shot moved the glare spot
In Photo #8, it is complete concealed by the subjects and the (slightly) high camera angle.
In the end, I made nearly 200 photos, but by the time I culled out the clunkers, I wound up with 80 usable images, and I did it in one hour. And using direct flash allowed for fast recycle times and relatively long battery life. Truly, an easy shooting day!