Wotcha Take That Flash Off The Camera For?

I've received several questions and comments recently regarding lighting techniques used in my images and rather than repeating myself responding to people individually, I thought id lay some insight out on the table here. By the way guys, please feel free to direct any other questions this way and I will surely try to answer them when I can. So, lighting...

‘Get the light off the camera’. Sound familiar? It's a common belief that in order to make great light this is what you must do. Well, generally this is correct. However under certain circumstances keeping your flash ON the camera is exactly the thing to do.

I’ve been really loving using on camera flash recently. Sure, I’ve taken the ‘safe shots’ using the usual off camera techniques, but once they are in the bag and the client is happy, I’ve enjoyed seeing how much I can push on camera flash. And its quite often these ‘badly light’ shots that work best. One legendary photographer who has made an incredible career out of the compact camera flash style is Terry Richardson


Evan Rachel Wood by Terry Richardson for GQ magazine

Sure, lighting beautiful young models badly is pretty hard to do. They can take it all(Especially when you have amazing styling and makeup involved like Terry). With the right subject matter however the harsh qualities of direct flash can really make a photo pop. In my experience i've found the problems generally  occur when you rotate your camera into portrait orientation, with the flash off to the side of the lens which can create undesirable shadows.

In order to overcome this, I find holding a flash directly over the lens, being fired via a radio trigger or sync cable works just great. Technically I guess you could say this is off camera flash, but if it makes a great photo who fives a f*$£k but it allows you to switch orientation easily while maintaining the same look and shadows.

So next time you are shooting and you think it's a wrap, just go slap on your speedlite and see what you can do with it- you might be surprised!

Stay tuned...

Follow the adventure on Twitter

Become a fan on Facebook