December 1, 2007

Several photographers have asked me how in much of my photography has flash been used.  And I would say that about 80% of my work when I photograph weddings and environmental portraits, has flash of some kind.

Whether nearly all flash :

(a single on-camera speedlight, gelled to tungsten, and bounced over my left shoulder,
1/25th @ f4 @ 1600 iso)

(Once again, a single on-camera speedlight, gelled to tungsten, and bounced over my left shoulder,
1/100th @ f2.8 @ 2000 iso)

… or a healthy mixture of flash and available light
(both these next images also had the flash gelled for tungsten, but I
dialed down appropriately to match ambient light the way I wanted to.
I also took care in controlling the direction of my flash.)

…. or just a touch of fill-flash.
(juuuuust enough to lift the shadows from her eyes, or lift the contrast levels … so that I have to spend very little time in post-production, editing these images.)

(flash directly forward, but dialed down to -3EV to enable just a touch of fill-flash.
1/250th @ f4.5 @ 160 ISO)


Or sometimes only the available light when the existing light is just perfect.

(1/250th @ f4 @ 640 ISO)


(1/320th @ f2 @ 640 ISO)

Whatever needs to be done to create a flattering image.

It isn’t just a about sense of aesthetics:
1. Reducing my post-production time is a strong consideration whether I should use flash or not. At best, I only want to touch up WB and exposure and still have images that look great.
2. I want to give the bride the best photos on the day that I can get, without clinging to any particular rigid ideology.

Oh, and can we just dispel one silly notion here … that being able to shoot at a high ISO enables you not to use flash. The decision to use alternate lighting (whether flash or video lights or reflectors) has more to do with the quality of light, than the light levels. Those are two distinctly different aspects .. quality and quantity of light.

Back to the topic … In portraiture and wedding photography, my intention though is always to create flattering images, combined with a story-telling approach, and one that is not intrusive.  And within certain constraints, I am always considering the direction and intensity of the flash that I use.  And I am always aware of the ambient light levels, and the quality of the ambient light … and this shapes my decision as to how I use flash, and how much.  And thereby using juuuust enough flash.


help support this website

{ 2 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Jayce December 20, 2007 at 11:45 pm

Nice shots. Thanks for all your tips. I learn a lot from you. Thanks. ;)


2 Jason Hayward December 21, 2007 at 4:26 pm

Fantastic images. I’m learning a lot about using the flash in ways that I simply hadn’t considered before. I think I’l have to get the wife and kids to do some more posing for me so I can put into practice the teachings from a master!



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: