Off-Camera Flash. Artificial light.
Any derivative of the word.
Flash is dreaded word for nearly every natural light photographer. It evokes images of people being hit in the face by a bright light with dark, dramatic backgrounds. Or of people backed by a setting sun, only to be oddly illuminated from the front, seeming to glow from within in a strange dimension of bright light and muted natural tones.
If you are a natural light photographer, you likely love the wonder and the natural dimensions of light.
The glow of soft, even light exposing the front of your subjects while there is a nice backlit glow behind your client hitting them with perfect rim lighting.
Indeed, there is nothing that humans can do to perfectly recreate this wonderful technology of open shade and sunshine.
However, no matter how much we may love natural light- There IS a time and place for artificial light, and specifically off-camera flash.
Because of that, we need to know HOW to use Off-Camera Flash and how to be comfortable doing so.
Simply because having our perfect, ideal lighting scenario is not possible 100% of the time!
Have you ever scheduled a portrait session around golden hour only the have a thunderstorm roll in that day and have to cancel?
Alternatively, you may have had the wind literally blow your day and eliminate the possibility for you to do your portrait session in that beautiful field.
There are so many times that nature just throws a wrench in our plans to use its wonderful light source.
And that is just for portrait photography!
Now, this post is not about using Off-Camera Flash outdoors.
As a natural light photographer myself, I love the kind of lighting that I get naturally from creation, and I do not use Off-Camera Flash to offer fill light on my outdoor portrait sessions.
This post will cover the benefits of using Off-Camera Flash as it pertains to INDOOR events such as lifestyle sessions or wedding receptions where natural light is not available.
Being asked to photograph a wedding is a huge privilege- The individual that booked you is actually considering trusting YOU to preserve their most precious memories of a lifetime.
And that is fine and well when you’re doing their first look and sunset portraits and the weather is cooperating, but what about when it comes to all of the other once in a lifetime shots that make up that day, such as at the reception?
As a professional entrusted with these moments, you have to have a solid lighting plan in place and not just *hope* that there will be enough light to capture all of these precious moments once they arrive.
Well, think about it; what is the setting for a typical wedding reception?
Low to no light, being provided by candles or string lights, and usually there is not enough ambient light being provided to capture images with just your camera alone.
That means that if you were RELYING on the possibility of enough light being available when it comes time to capture an important moment- your camera may be slow to focus, your shutter speed may be so low that your images are all blurry, or, you may not be able to even get an image at all.
You may miss that once in a lifetime shot, simply because there was not enough light for your camera to capture it.
All of these memories need to be –and deserve to be– captured with the same grace, skill, and confidence that you offer throughout the rest of their day.
This means that you need to walk in, knowing that you have a game plan for capturing every part of that day with confidence and skill.
You have to have some kind of artificial light that you provide and control that provides illumination to adequately capture your must have images.
Off-Camera Flash enables you as a photographer to maintain the atmosphere of the romantic and soft lighting that your bride and groom put so much thought into while providing sufficient light for your camera only at the moments that you need to capture an image.
With strategically placed Off-Camera Flashes and knowledge of how to use them, you can not only capture any moment throughout your couple’s day, but you can deliver gorgeous, emotion filled images that truly honor and represent this most special day of their lives.
And you can do this with images that match their natural light portrait galleries, in a style that still looks and feels like you and represents who you are as a photographer just as much as it represents the couple that you are shooting.
Using Off-Camera Flash enables you to capture these high-end images that are sharp, light, and bright.
Just like anything else with photography, learning to use Off-Camera Flash does take some work and some technical knowledge, but it is not nearly as frustrating or scary as it may be on your head, or as other people have made it out to be.
Off-Camera Flash can actually become your best friend as a photographer.
If that sounds like an odd statement, just hear me out.
Have you ever shot an indoor event- any kind of event, where the lighting just didn’t work?
Maybe you really stretched the ability of your camera settings, hoping and praying that it would *just work*, and if it didn’t, you could just “save” it when you got home and edited it.
Only to then spend hours and countless tears and stomach aches behind your computer because the images just weren’t what you were hoping for?
Well, I have. And I know that heart sick, lost-the-moment feeling and the anxiety of waiting to hear back from your client to see if they were disappointed when they received their gallery.
Now, compare that feeling to be able to walk into a setting of any kind, any light.
With a few strategically placed lights and a few pushes of buttons, being able to capture timeless, sharp, elegant images that you are proud to deliver to your client.
All because you took the time to learn how to use flash proficiently.
That is what learning how to use Off-Camera Flash can do for you, and that is why learning to use flash is a fundamental part of any photographer’s education.
Not only does it elevate your confidence as a photographer and take away those heartsick hours behind the computer trying to save ruined images.
It also elevates your business and your brand by enabling you to offer your clients the kind of images that you are known for.
So, in summary, being familiar and comfortable with flash allows you to walk into any situation that is lacking in natural light and allow you to KNOW beyond a doubt that you have the equipment and the skill to take pictures that your clients are going to love and that represent you as a photographer.
Using flash also removes the stress and long hours at a computer trying to “save” images taken without ample light.
Knowing how to proficiently use flash allows you to take high-end bookings, knowing that you can deliver exactly what your client wants and deserves.
This not only builds your confidence in yourself as a photographer, but it elevates your business as a professional, showing that you have a full grasp of all of the skills needed in your craft, including flash.
You are not limited to only shooting at certain times of day or conditions.
Want to learn more about flash, or don’t even know where to get started?
Click HERE to download a free guide about 4 essentials to get started with off-camera flash.
Click HERE to Sign up for a free flash training, where you learn what you need to get started with flash, what mode to use to capture consistent results and how to get rid of the “flashy” look that often comes with flash!
If you would like to learn more about flash, check out The Off-Camera Flash Course HERE. This is a comprehensive, all in one course that takes you from knowing nothing to shooting a wedding using flash in 5 hours!