Few photosensitizers function in both light and dark processes as they usually have no function when the lights are turned off. We hypothesized that light and dark mechanisms in an α-diketone will be decoupled by dihedral rotation in a conformation- dependent binding process. Successful decoupling of these two functions is now shown. Namely, anti- and syn-skewed conformations of 4,4′-dimethylbenzil promote photosensitized alkoxy radical production, whereas the syn conformation promotes a binding shutoff reaction with trimethyl phosphite. Less rotation of the diketone is better suited to the photosensitizing function since phosphite binding arises through the syn conformer of lower stability. The dual function seen here with the α-diketone is generally not available to sensitizers of limited conformational flexibility, such as porphyrins, phthalocyanines, and fullerenes.