Why Flash Portraits

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Portrait sessions are an investment. They take a lot of time, planning, effort, and money to pull off successfully. How do you guarantee that no matter the time, place, or weather that you receive the images you’ve imagined that also stand out from everyone else’s portraits? Use Flash.

What is Flash Portrait Photography?

A flash is a piece of equipment that emits light. Think of it as a pulsing flashlight. A photographer controls the amount of light, color, and “shape” of the light to influence how an image looks.

So why is this important?

The Benefits of Flash Portrait Photography

Flash Makes Overcast Days Look like Bright Sun

What happens if you want portraits with a golden sun look, and it’s overcast the day of your shoot? Cloudy days reduce shadows and make for a softer or “flatter” looking image. Total cloud cover also eliminates that signature glowing effect. To recreate the desired sun look, we just need to add a flash or two. Throw on some orange-tinted gels (pieces of plastic that change the color of light the Flash produces), and we’re golden! (Pun-intended.)

Direct Sunlight is Less Harsh with Flash

Alrighty, but what about if it’s crazy sunny out and you want softer images? Usually, we’d just find a patch of shade and shoot there, but that’s not always possible. There are two solutions – hold a giant piece of cloth up high to create shade or use a flash! In this instance, a photographer can use Flash to fill in the shadows and reduce the contrast. They could also do something called “overpower the sun” and make the hard sunlight less impactful in your portraits.

The only thing Flash can’t fix is rain. You can get some fun shots with it though!

Illuminate the Darkness with Flash

Sometimes schedules are tight and force us to shoot at non-optimal times for lighting. Flash photography allows you to get great portraits regardless of the ambient lighting. If it’s getting late and the sun is dropping, a natural light photographer may pack it in. Flash, however, will illuminate you and the scene to look clean and crisp while also maintaining the natural tones and mood.

Flash Portraits Means Get Creative

One of the perks of using Flash is that a photographer can do a lot of funky stuff to modify it. These modifications result in unique and creative effects in your portraits. Intentionally adding color to flashes, or using them like spotlights to accent specific details, are great ways to make pictures unique.

Flash Portraits Stand Out

Natural light portraits all look the same. Seriously. There are only a handful of different natural lighting situations, and physics means that the results are pretty consistent. Photoshop is a powerful tool and can be used to modify images, but it takes a lot of effort and time to look natural. Flash, on the other hand, takes the possibilities to an entirely different level. Simply adding one Flash to an image can completely change the look of your portrait. Want to introduce a purple color? Use Flash. Want to spotlight yourself against a cool background? Use Flash. Want to make daytime look like night? Use Flash. If you want portraits that stand out from everyone else’s, then find a photographer who uses Flash.

creative flash portrait of mobsters gambling with dice

Summary

Flash photography is a powerful tool. It ensures that no matter the time, place, or weather, you can get the portraits you’ve always imagined for yourself. Additionally, Flash used creatively and intentionally, can create pictures that stand out from the crowd, and simply cannot be photographed using natural light only. If you want total control of your images, guaranteed results that match your vision, and unique portraits that no one else has, consider working with a flash photographer.

A quick note: I love natural light photos! I always start with natural light before pulling out flashes and strobes because it’s much easier on the pace and flow of a shoot. This blog post is written to be a tad exaggerated but make no mistake if natural light is the best tool to get the best image, then I’m going to use it!

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