I’ve made a few photography goals this year.
One of my goals: master on-location flash photography.
When I first started wanting to improve my portrait photography (back in 2014 in China), I purchased a flash and learned basic functions. This was before I had a studio with all my ‘fancy’ gear, so I used the flash to photograph headshots and a few family sessions. I quickly learned that I did not enjoy setting up and using flash for family portraits because I would rather chase kids around trying to get all the “in-between” moments of families, rather than one perfectly posed and lit photo. It just became something “in the way”, rather than a useful tool.
Since that first year learning flash, I’ve invested in studio gear and studio lighting. I understand lighting a lot more then I did back then, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable bringing a flash or two to a location. I want to change that.
My plan is not to change how I photograph families but gain a new skill that I can use in my toolkit. And have fun doing it! Enjoy this story.
Saturday was the first night I took my flash out of the studio. At first, I tried setting up my Canon 430 flash. I turned it on, put triggers on both my camera and the flash, and pressed the shutter button. The flash did not go off. Hmmm. I tried switching out the batteries. That didn’t work. I tried turning it on and turning it back off, but that also did not work. I said some profanity, and it finally started working.
After I attached my really cheap purchased-in-china light stand and umbrella, I brought it into the back room where my son likes to play and told him he could have a cookie if he listed to me and let me take a few pictures of him. He ran over to the sofa with his part scream part laugh. I didn’t bother changing him out of his shark sweatshirt into something cuter because I knew that would be too much to ask.
I pressed my shutter, the flash did not go off. I thought crap, something might have disconnected, so I took the triggers that were on both the camera and the flash off and on. I pressed the shutter again, forgot my son was in the room and (sorry Mike) may have yelled a bunch of profanity. The flash fell off the trigger, and I yelled some more as I also hit the chandelier with my head that is in a completely wrong location in our backroom. Jackson started yelling (fortunately not the profanity that I was), and running around. Then I remembered…
My F**ed up Canon flash never worked consistently. That’s why I bought a cheaper Youngnu Flash. Switched them out, and the flash worked perfectly 🙂
By this time my son was done modeling. He saw the bright red light on the flash and decided he would rather press that button so a bright light hit me and not him. I let him hold my Canon flash. He had tons of fun blinding me as I kept following him around the couch yelling at him “lay this way not that way!!”
Here it is. This is the result of the 22.5 seconds I had where my 3.5-year old let me photograph him playing on our couch. I call the project a success, my son has not repeated my profanity and I ended up with some pictures I don’t hate. And remembered I need to throw out my Canon flash.
Make sure to scroll to the end and read about what I learned.
What I learned
- Get a flash that works
- When attaching your flash to ANYTHING, make sure you tighten it, otherwise, it will fall. And break. That’s probably why my Canon flash is a piece of garbage.
- It’s probably better to practice on something that doesn’t move as much as a three-year-old.
Hopefully, my next article might be a bit more helpful.