A huge part, almost responsibility, of my job as a wedding photographer is to help educate couples. I educate them about the wedding market, refer them to trusted vendors, help them with their timeline, photo locations, what to wear during engagement sessions, even down to how to hold the bouquet on the wedding day. One of the things that gets brought up in our conversations is the term “natural light” photographer. They read it somewhere on The Knot or on Pinterest and it sounds so romantic. (A natural light photographer is someone who does not use any additional light sources, like strobes or flashes, to create an image.) While there are very talented natural light photographers, I largely think it is a marketing ploy and a nice way to say “flash scares me.” Knowing how to use off-camera flash gives you tons of creative control and allows your imagination to take something totally ordinary and make it extraordinary.
Take Kristina and Rick’s wedding for example. I showed up to Rick’s parents’ house and only had a few minutes to shoot his prep. At the end of him getting ready, I had a gift to deliver to Rick. It was a gorgeous engraved pistol. Rick was looking quite dapper in his tux and was beyond excited for such a thoughtful and generous gift, so I decided to create an image of him that would only elevate his memory of receiving it…in his garage!
Yep, this is what I had to work with. This would be the canvas that I would make something awesome out of. How did I do it? Did I embrace my magical “natural light photographer” powers? No. I grabbed my Profoto with a grid and went to work. It only took me 90 seconds to get a series of images. First thing I did was close the garage door and cut out all of that natural light. Then, I handed Rick’s brother the Profoto, told him where to stand, and asked him to aim it at his brothers nose. With a few minor adjustments, an off-camera flash, and bumping the shutter speed to cut out any ambient light, this is what we created:
90 seconds, a little bit of knowledge, and an off-camera flash is all I needed to create a great photo to commemorate a memorable moment for Rick (and give him a James Bond a run for his money.) This can be done with any off-camera flash system with a few adjustments.
I wanted to create this post to reinforce one of the things I find myself talking to couples about during their consultation: when you are booking a photographer, you aren’t booking them for how many Instagram followers they have or how easy their website is to navigate. You are booking them for all of their experience, education, investments in equipment, and their ability to consistently create artistic images through problem solving. I am sorry that the truth isn’t as romantic as it appears to be on Instagram threads. At least the end results are.
Read more about my thoughts on off-camera flash here.