So I’m not a big fan of using a flash. Mainly, because it scares me. It’s technical, mathematical even, and requires too much equipment and set up. This means there’s little room for spontaneity, and spontaneity is what I’m always looking for in wedding photography. I want to capture moments as authentically as possible- not have the flash dictate in which direction I ought to be shooting. Nor do I want my subject to have to stand still awkwardly in a given position until I manage to eventually find a point of focus in the dark.

Yet some of the most incredible photographic work I’ve seen has been of pictures taken using flashes in creative ways. And when I look at those pictures I always feel really threatened.  They just seem so…

Unattainable.

I wouldn’t have a clue how to set up a shot like that.

So for a while I’ve been meaning to get my butt into gear to fight my fears of this aspect of photography. I even went to a workshop for that sole purpose. Truth is, I only came back feeling more confused. I then basically ditched the idea of ever understanding flash and bought myself a video light as an alernative light source. I was 100% sold on this, until I started learning about it’s limitations. Such as the battery dying on me for good after hardly having used it and it costing R1000 to replace!). Sooooo…. I’ve decided it’s time I try this flash thing again. Sometimes, I’ll put it on a stand at a wedding for the dancing shots. EVERY now and then I manage to get a cool shot. Most of the time they are just not usuable. But what I’ve learnt, is that for me the only way of moving forward, is by getting it wrong a few times. And then learning from those mistakes.

Um, ja, so my gorgeous sister-in-law Mun was in town in January, and we’d discussed doing a little photoshoot for fun. She’s into fashion, I’m into photography- You know, it just made sense. With each of us having our own clashing schedules, the only time we could set for this was 9pm on a weekday night. I love the whole look with the city lights etc, but, well my video light was dead, so I only had one choice: Use a flash! Aaaaaah, scary!

Thank goodness my brother-in-law David (Mun’s husband) was there with us. Not only did he act as our bodyguard, “that guy that holds the light stand” and “the guy who shines his cellphone light on the model so I can focus” but he also ended up standing in as my teacher. After taking my first couple of shots, I was very quickly reminded that I knew next to nothing and that I needed some guidance. After a fair bit of trial and error, I figured out roughly how to achieve a look I like. I felt bad for Mun as she really did have to stand still in one pose for way longer than is natural while I was fumbling about trying to figure this thing out. But the cool thing about fashion, is that it’s not really trying to look natural. I mean, come on, who stands in the middle of the Road with their hands on their hips?

I digress.

What I’m really saying is, it was not a smooth process, and half my shots came out completely blown out, but I did learn something. And I was surprised to find that some of the shots actually came out looking pretty cool. This was of course made possible by the beautiful (and patient!) model. Thanks for your willingness, Mun. And thank you David.

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This one was an accident, but I like how it came out.2015-04-22_0009

These last two were not taken with a flash. It was a combination of David’s cellphone torch light, and the street lights. I like how they turned out- it’s a slightly less harsh look. However this would not have worked in all scenarios.

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