When it comes to Wedding Photography, nothing inspires fear in a natural light photographer faster than Flash Photography. Your wedding is going beautifully. You’re nailing portrait after portrait. Then, suddenly, the sun dips behind the horizon.
That’s when it starts. The sweaty palms. The mental gymnastics. The repeated smashing of the internal “panic” button.
I get it.
I’ve been there.
I’ve felt the terror.
I’ve also come out on the other side.
And, believe it or not… I’ve actually learned to LOVE my flash.
If you’re reading this, chances are that’s not your story… not YET, at least. Today, however, you’re taking a step in the right direction… a step towards a better tomorrow when it comes to your hate/hate relationship with flash photography.
Before we go any further, I should probably introduce myself! So… hi! My name’s Rob! I’m a natural light wedding photographer in Fort Worth, Texas. One who has learned to love taking flash photos, because I’ve also learned how to take flash photos that are bright and fun. And, in many cases, these flash photos often wind up looking like natural light photos… even though they weren’t!
Every Monday/Wednesday/Friday for the next 4 weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite wedding flash photography tips with you, but today, I wanted to start by tackling the elephant in the room:
Most of us, if we’re being honest, hate shooting with flash.
Why do we hate our flashes? Let’s just make a list, shall we?
Need I keep going?
The reality is, I don’t need to convince you of all the reasons natural light photographers like you dread shooting with your flash. So let’s set all of those things aside for a moment. Let’s turn over a new leaf. Today, I want to share with you 3 Reasons Wedding Flash Photography isn’t as scary as you think!
If you wanted to take a great natural light photo, what would you do when setting up your shot? You’d probably start by thinking about things like the composition of the photo you’re about to take. You’d think about the colors in that photo. You’d make sure your subject is going to be lit in a way that is soft and even and beautiful. You’d make sure your photo was balanced, and great focus on your subject, with a dreamy bokeh in the background.
Guess what? All these things come in to play when shooting with flash, too! Far too often, I see photographers throwing out everything they know about photography when they put a flash on their camera. However, the reality is, all your natural light know-how gives you a HUGE head start in shooting with your flash! If you can take a killer natural light photo, you’re already off to a massive head start in taking killer flash photos too!
Almost every wedding photographer I know shoots their natural light photos in manual mode. If that’s you, then you know how important the 3 camera settings are that control an image’s exposure: Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture. And, if you’ve been shooting for a while, you’ve probably even got your favorite go-to tweaks you prefer to make to solve exposure challenges when you’re shooting a wedding. You know that if you’re wanting more bokeh, and your Aperture is at 4.0, opening the aperture to 2.8 will help you accomplish that! But you also know that will make your image brighter, so you’re always ready to lower your ISO or raise your Shutter Speed to compensate.
These 3 settings, Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture, ALL play a very specific role when shooting with flash, too! (For example, did you know that your Shutter Speed controls the brightness of just the BACKGROUND of your flash photos?)
Just like knowing how each of these settings affects a natural light photo made you a WAY better natural light photographer, understanding how Shutter Speed, ISO and Aperture impact your flash images will make you a WAY better flash photographer!
Why did you learn to shoot natural light photos in manual, instead of auto?
One word: Control.
As photographers, we’re control freaks. We want to have the maximum amount of control over the outcome of each image. Shooting in manual gives us the control we crave.
You might be shocked to find out that shooting in flash gives you MORE control over your images, not less.
One of my favorite financial gurus is Dave Ramsey. Dave talks about budgeting as “telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.”
I like that.
In fact, I think shooting with flash is very much the same! Flash Photography is telling THE SUN where to go, instead of wondering it went!
Imagine having the power to put the sun in the perfect spot in the sky to take the kind of photos you love most, every single time. That is what learning to shoot with flash can do. It gives you the power to place your light source exactly where you need it to nail the perfect shot for each moment! Wouldn’t that be a dream???
You may be thinking, “ok that’s great for YOU, Rob, but you’ve figured this stuff out already! I haven’t, and I wouldn’t even know where to start!” Great news: you don’t have to be an expert to take great flash photos, you just need to understand a few simple concepts about light.
One of the students in our Flash Course, Araka, demonstrated this more beautifully than I ever could. When I met Araka, she was frustrated with her flash. As she was going through our course, she posted this image of a LaCroix can by a window, with soft, beautiful, natural light cascading in from the outside:
There’s only one catch. That’s not natural light. That’s a flash. She even had me fooled. Here’s the setup of her shot:
Isn’t that wild! Araka used to hate her flash, too. But now, she’s starting to love it! And that can be your story too!
Wedding Flash Photography isn’t as scary as you think! It’s based on all the same concepts as the natural light photography you love (color, composition, etc). It uses all the same exposure settings you’ve already conquered in your natural light photography (Shutter Speed, ISO, Aperture). And it gives you MORE control over the image you produce – like being able to put the sun at the perfect angle in the sky for every photo!
I hope this gives you the courage to pick your flash up today, wipe the dust off, and take another stab at it. I’ll be back on Wednesday to share a post that will hopefully further ignite that inspiration: 6 Reasons You Need to Learn to Shoot With Flash TODAY.
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