Flash photography gets such a bad reputation for being a chintzy, outdated, or even.. JCPenneys-esque style of photography. When in reality?
Whether you shoot weddings or not, this is information you should absolutely know as a photographer! The time is going to eventually come where you no longer can rely on natural light. There are two main ways that you can start making your flash photography look more natural- on camera flash and off camera flash. Watch the video below or scroll and read on!
On camera flash photography is what you’re probably used to seeing or what first comes to mind with flash photography – on camera flash means you have a speed light put into your hot shoe on top of your camera. I personally use the Godox V 860 – but you can find a wide variety of budget friendly options here. Off camera flash means that you have your flash separate from your camera, and we’ll break down both of these options! I use my Godox V 860 for both on camera and off camera.
While still being an affordable flash – the Godox has a little bit more manual capabilities than your average budget hotshoe. I’m able to manually adjust my settings to create whatever look I’d like, which is key when it comes to making flash photography look natural.
Whether you’re shooting on camera flash or off camera flash- you are going to need to focus on the three things that affect light and artificial light. These are camera settings, flash intensity, and distance from subject. For example.. if you’re closer to your subject, you’re going to want to maybe have a higher ISO or lower aperture and a lower setting on your flash so it’s not as intense. This is going to allow more natural light and just kind of raise the overall light of the image. If you’re further away, you’re obviously going to have to raise the flash intensity to combat that. However, that’s where you’re going to adjust your shutter speed make sure that it has time to spread out as much as possible.
Next let’s unpack making flash look natural with two different kinds of flash techniques. We’ll start with on camera flash!
If you don’t want to deal with that direct flash look (aka unnatural), you have two options on using your on camera flash. The first option is to just turn your flash upward or to the side. If you have a white wall or something that you can bounce light off, this is going to work almost similar to how a window would or any sort of natural light source where it’s getting to bounce off and because it’s bouncing, it gets to spread and look more natural!
However if you’re working in a barn or somewhere where you don’t have white walls, you won’t be able to bounce your flash. You’ll need to pull out the small white bounce card on top of the flash. This can work like a slight bounce! I like to do is just bend my flash a little bit forward and it gives the flash light the ability to just bounce off a little and at least spread a little bit more than it would if it was directly forward or directly up. I am also not against manually literally using my hands and having to bend this little card a little to get the light to kind of curve how I want it to!
It is my favorite thing in the world! For off camera flash, you’re just going to need a few extra pieces of gear on top of your speed light that you already have. You are going to need a remote and receiver, which you can find mine here. You’ll put the remote on your camera where the flash would go, and the receiver on the bottom of the flash, which will then be placed on a tripod- wherever you need it!
What’s going to happen is these two things are going to communicate to each other- so you can move around without changing your settings, because your flash and your subject are staying the same distance apart! This makes it so much easier to move quickly during first dances, cake cuttings, etc.
If you want to guarantee that your flash photography looks like natural light, you can use a diffuser. This allows your light to bounce off and diffuse through so many things before it actually hits your subject. This creates the most beautiful, creamy, natural looking flash photography that you truly would never know is flash photography! This light setup as well as this diffuser has literally changed my career in all of the best ways.
If you want to see more of this flash photography setup in action, we have a free guide for you below to dive into! It’s going to walk you through how flash works, all the gear that we suggest buying, as well as show you me shooting a session in studio with the same setup I use on wedding’s days so that you can see all of this in action. Any questions? Leave them below and we will see you next time!
xx Eden Strader + Team
Imagery: Eden Strader
Model: Yahaira Garcia
Jewelry: Stella and Haas
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