There are lots of different ways to use flash light in photography. The light that pops up in the front of a camera can be very harsh, especially if close up, so we try to avoid it where possible.

I use a flash gun on my camera for convenience but where ever possible I turn the flash head away from the subject and bounce the light from the ceiling or a wall… this is all well and good provided the said wall or ceiling are a plain pale colour as the light will take on whatever colour it is being reflected from! This makes the light from the flash gun much larger and therefore softer and more flattering. We try to have light falling on a person from above and at about 45 degrees so that it looks more natural, imitating the sun. If I have to have the flash pointing forward I move it up a click or two to ‘feather’ the light and ensure that it is not pointing directly at the subject. Where possible I take the flash gun off the camera altogether and mount it on a stand of some type and fire it from a trigger on my camera so that I can control its direction.

Lighting is a HUGE topic and flash is just a tiny part of the subject. In its simplest terms it’s just adding a bit of light to a picture. At it’s most complicated it’s about adding accents, controlling shoots and creating effects. I use flash on a sunny day to fill in shadows, but on model shoots I sometimes use flash to overpower the sun and make it look like night time too. At weddings I even put the flash behind the bride and groom to light just their outlines as a silhouette on the first dance and provide a star burst of light between their faces.

There is so much you can do!!!


Here I have added a collage of pictures to show all the techniques I have mentioned above. The man by the car was taken on a very bright day and I used flash to soften the shadows and light his face under the cap. The girl in the woods was taken on a very bright day but I wanted it to look like night time to increase how vulnerable she looked. The guy in the scarf is an example of controlling the light to make the skies look dramatic and brooding and the wedding shot shows how I have used it to create a special rim light effect.



As Penny said, flash photography is a vast subject but the basics are easy enough to learn, it’s mastering it that’s the hard part! This shot was taken a few years ago during a studio flash course. It was one of the last courses that Nat and I did together before she went off on her travels and we had a ball. Not only was the subject rather handsome but our tutor, Sarah, actually managed to make sure that the knowledge stayed in my brain. My advice is try it, if it doesn’t work try something else. You can see in this image that the flash is directed at the subjects left side, this creates great contrast throughout the image and makes it far more interesting to the eye than if the subject was equally lit from both sides. Joe


I am nowhere near as good a photographer as the other TMK ladies, and I only have the in built flash on my camera. I try to not use it, to test my ability to take a decent shot. But I have learnt that sometimes it can be used in my favour. This isn’t one of my best shots, but what it does demonstrate is that I used my flash to light up the children, so they didn’t come out shadowed compared to their background. I love the bokeh and the light of this photo – and also that my kids look like a couple of urchins!

kids living in London, living in Tooting


Shooting into window light without flash means that you either lose detail on the subject you are shooting thus turning them into silhouettes, or you lose the lovely quality of the window light itself. I took this on a commercial shoot, where I didn’t have any off-camera flash equipment and only a flash gun for the top of my camera to hand. I bounced it off the ceiling so that there was just enough light to balance out the natural window light, illuminate the children and freeze them in mid air. In retrospect, I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time – it was a lucky shot – but it actually went on to win an international photo competition, so it’s one of my all-time favs.

Melissa Love Food Photographer_0048


Rosie is away at the moment so Penny chose one of her pictures for her this week… I love this bridal portrait. Rosie has used flash slightly brighter than the daylight to add drama and freeze movement. The flash has countered the sun behind the bride so that she isn’t silhouetted.

rosie flash pic

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