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Take Your Images to the Next Level with Flash Photography

by Mike Hagen
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Using flash photography is a great way to step up your photography game. While it’s true that you can produce excellent work with available light, flash photography adds the extra punch your images need to go from good to great.

Many of the world’s iconic photographs were actually taken in available light, illuminated by ambient sources such as windows, the sun or even interior lighting. So, if available light is so good, then why would you want to use flash photography? The answer lies in these four important reasons.

Repeatability

When shooting with available light, you are at the whim of the conditions around you. For example, if you are shooting outdoors, then the ambient light can literally change by the minute. If you create a certain image that you want to replicate, then you have to wait for the exact same environmental conditions to repeat in order to reproduce that image in the future.

Using a flash allows you to recreate the exact same lighting conditions time and time again. Since flash output is consistent, it gives you the ability to repeat a shot for different clients and in different locations. Once you’ve fine-tuned your lighting setup, you can easily repeat that same look over and over again.


Want to learn more about using your flash? Tune in for a comprehensive guide from photo expert Mike Hagen.

Flash photography with Mike Hagen


Control

When shooting with a flash indoors, you have full control over the look and feel of the light by using various modifiers such as umbrellas, soft boxes, reflectors or any of the other available light shaping tools. When shooting outdoors, a flash gives you the capability to control the brightness of your subject independent from the brightness of the ambient light. This gives you control over the scene in ways that just aren’t possible if relying on ambient light.

For ambient light photographers, it is possible to influence the look and feel of the available light, but it often takes a lot of effort and creativity — even a bit of luck.

For example, if you are shooting a portrait indoors and the sun is streaming through a window, you’ll probably have to use a scrim to diffuse the bright light. When the sun goes behind a cloud, then you have to quickly change the scrim to maintain the same brightness level as your previous shots. The change in brightness will also  require you to change camera settings such as shutter speed and ISO. As a result, you’re forced to adapt to the changing conditions, rather than having the complete control and predictability that a flash allows.

Flexibility

Using a flash grants the flexibility to quickly shoot multiple looks with a minimal amount of equipment. By making just a few changes to flash power, flash position, and the flash modifier, you can go from a dark and moody look to a bright and airy look in a matter of minutes. I love having this flexibility.

Flash photography also gives you the flexibility to produce high quality work anywhere. You can take your small flash lighting kit on the road to create high-end portraits in someone’s living room, a neighbor’s garage, or a corporate office. The ability to take your skills to the client can open up a new creative outlet or even a new revenue stream. Mastering flash photography allows you to perform at a higher level than other photographers.

Affordable

Incorporating a flash into your photography doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, you can put together a high-performing kit for less than $200 (closer to $100 if you find a good sale).

To start out, I recommend buying a flash, one light stand, an umbrella and a nice reflector.


Want to learn more about using your flash? Tune in for a comprehensive guide from photo expert Mike Hagen.

Flash photography with Mike Hagen


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Mike Hagen

Mike Hagen is a CreativeLive instructor, professional photographer, and the Director of the Nikonians Academy. Follow him on Instagram at mikejhagen.