"I'm a natural light photographer."
Many articles have been written about this and this may just be noise in the crowd. But I feel like I have to write this as a way for those reading to inspire them to try using a flash. Especially an Off Camera Flash (OCF).
Now I will admit, when I started out as a photographer I said this. I felt like it made me sound like I was artsy and could use available light in ways no one else could. But once I really started shooting weddings I realized that I needed to learn flash in a flash. Now most of us once we first get a camera and flip it into auto mode the flash pops up and we fire. Our portraits always end up blown out with huge shadows and we are like "Ooohfff, That looks awful. I will only use available light." And then we start trying to shoot all photos with only natural light.
Now as for natural light, It is beautiful. It is absolutely amazing when used right. There are photographers out there that use available light in amazing ways. I really try and use it a lot, but I always try and get creative and use my strobes for some fun shot that is really an attention grabber. The two photos below were taken at a wedding this past summer, it was rainy and completely dark outside. But I had an amazing couple and they wanted to go get some photos. If I had not known how to use OCF I would have been SOL. But I feel like we made some amazing photos.
Both these images were Canon 5D mark III with a Canon 16-35mm 2.8 - ISO 1600 - f2.8 - 16mm - 1/125. Due to the rain and having no bags I used my Yonguno Flashes and triggers. Flashes were fired at full power places directly behind the subjects.
Another reason to use flash is when the elements are not working for you. Take a look at this image below.
Another reason to learn to use flash is for amazing lifestyle photos. Now I will be the first to admit that I am not the best at this, I am still on the learning road. Below is an example of how to use a flash in order to get those sunset portraits. If you are like me and when you first tried to do this without flash you find yourself in a dilemma, You can either get the sunset, or the faces. With one you get the sky but the people are in shadows. In the other you get the people but the sky is blown out an you cannot even see the colors. Introduce the flash and you can end up with a photos like below.
Matt Ritscher - New Hope Photography - Flash was on a stand to camera right fired at half power.
I love the below image by Stephanie Orr (www.900northphotography.com.) She used her OCF in a very creative way. In doing so she was able to light her subject as well as capture the ambiance of the scene.
Mike Ramos (www.ramos.com) thought completely outside the box on this shot. He placed two flashes outside the door, fired them at full power and created this breathtaking image.
One last image and link for inspiration. My friend Chris Hsieh utilizes OCF in amazing ways. Check out his work as well as the work of the ladies on his team here. His work has inspired me to work on my use of OCF and to try and incorporate it into more of my work.
Let me know your thoughts and comments. If you would like more information on off camera flash setups or how to use them put your thoughts in the comments below. There are inexpensive ways to get into off camera flash, that give you great results. Don't be afraid. Get out there and shoot.