Lighten Up: Off-Camera Flash Tips for Photographers

For some beginning photographers, flash photography and especially off-camera flash photography may seem daunting. But you shouldn’t let that deter you from exploring all the amazing ways off-camera flash can enhance your work.

Read on for off-camera flash tips!


Using off-camera flash in daylight:

Off-camera flash is not just for low-light environments or night photography. It can greatly enhance your daylight photography as well by providing critical foreground fill. Fill lighting is often necessary to reduce excessive contrast and flash can be a convenient solution.

Another instance where daytime flash photography is beneficial is when it is necessary to balance a shady foreground with a brightly lit background. In the image below the subject is back-lit by the late afternoon sun. The background is wonderfully lit by natural light, but the subject and foreground were shadowed. This is a perfect example of when to use off-camera flash in a daylight setting. I used a softbox to diffuse my off-camera flash and placed it just slightly to the left of my shooting position. It brightened up the foreground and illuminated my subject’s face beautifully.

daytime flash photography example

Using off-camera flash at dusk:

Ever wonder how some photographers manage to light their subjects perfectly while still capturing the colors of a fading sunset? Well, one way is to use a pair of off-camera flashes.

Position your first flash directly at your subject. I used a softbox to evenly diffuse the light for the composition below. Take your second flash and place it somewhere off in the distance behind the subject and out of sight. You can position it upward towards the horizon with the help of an assistant or a light stand. The second flash should give off just enough light to enhance the sky behind your subject and, if you are lucky, you may capture some truly inspiring colors!

off-camera flash dusk example

Creative uses for off-camera flash:

Want to create a little drama in your portraiture? Try a dimly lit corner using an off-camera flash. For this stylized boudoir session, there was minimal ambient light in the room. I used an off-camera flash and a softbox positioned to the right of the subject to illuminate only one half of the model’s face and body giving the image a heightened sense of mystique.


Another way to use off-camera flash creatively is to position the flash directly behind your subject like in the image below. This photography session occurred at a beach with very intense noonday sun beaming down. The sunlight was bouncing off the sand creating wonderful fill light. I positioned the off-camera flash behind my model and asked her to move around using the sheer embroidered fabric as a prop. The flash behind her was instrumental in creating an ethereal tone.


As you can see, there are many ways to take advantage of off-camera flash techniques. Using off-camera flash doesn’t have to be a big mystery and if you approach it with a fun and creative mindset there’s no telling what type of unique imagery you will create!

Capture amazing portraits! Learn to use off-camera flash to transform your snapshots into professional photos with just a bit of gear and the right technique in Craftsy’s online Off-Camera Flash Photography class.

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