3 Interesting Ways to Use Flash Photography for Awesome Shots!

Posted by on Jul 4, 2014 in Photography | Comments


Many of the situations you photograph will turn out just fine using natural or existing light. However, at other times, your photographs will really benefit from adding a flash. Knowing when and how to use  flash can make the difference between an okay photo and a professional-quality shot.

Here are 3 situations where using a flash will take your photographs from “meh” to “wow!” 

Situation #1: For indoor portraits

When taking indoor portraits and professional head shots, proper lighting is vital. Using a flash is important for making these types of shots look professional and evenly lit.

How to use the flash:

I usually place an off-camera flash 45 degrees above my subject and 45 degrees to the side for the best, most flattering lighting. I also like to use a modifier to diffuse the light and reduce harsh shadows.

In the setup below, I have used a dark grey background. The light I am using is an Alien Bee B800 white studio flash with a 47 inch octobox modifier. I also used a Canon 580EX flash off to the side and behind my subject to create just a touch of a rim light.  You can see that the resulting image is a soft, evenly-lit, professional portrait.

flash set up for professional head shots

professional head shot

Photos via Red Shoes Photography

Situation #2: To add drama to outdoor daytime portraits

Flash isn’t just for indoor portraits. In fact, using flash can create an additional level of intrigue to photos already lit by natural light. And, sometimes I want to add a little bit more interest to a portrait I’m taking in the daytime.

How to use the flash:

In the photo below, I wanted to create a little rim light around my subjects. The rim separates the subjects from the the background, making them standout. I placed a speed light just behind my subjects to create this lovely effect.

couple kissing in tree

In the photo below, I wanted to add a little bit of drama to a motorcycle portrait. To do so, I lit my subject with a flash inside an octobox, creating a more dramatic look. Just as with my indoor portrait, I again placed the light 45 degrees above and 45 degrees to the side of my subject.

cool dude on motorcycle

Situation #3: To make night time portraits really special and different

Sometimes I visualize an amazing portrait idea in my mind, but it’s a shot that can only be taken at night. By using flash properly, conceptualized portraits can become a reality.

How to use the flash:

The couple below got married at an old amusement park. The park was full of neon signs, bright colors and shining lights that I wanted to capture in my photographs. For the two portraits below, I exposed the background and then used a speed light along with a large umbrella as a modifier to create these fun wedding portraits:

bride and groom at amusement park

bride and groom at amusement park

Flash, especially off-camera flash is such a wonderful variable to play with in your photography. It can add highlights and shadows to completely change the mood and feel of a photo: These are just a few of the many situations where using off-camera flash can make your photos amazing.

So, don’t stop learning here! For more of the technical aspects of using off-camera flash, try one of Craftsy’s photography courses, such as Off-Camera Flash Photography or Studio Portrait Lighting, and start taking better photos today!

What situations do you love to play with off-camera flash?