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3 Steps I Took to Better Understand Off Camera Flash

January 25, 2018

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Flash, flash – OHHHH FLASH!

Friends, can I be honest with you? I was a little nervous to even dedicate this blog post to THIS specific topic!! Why? Because as a photographer who LOVES, loves, loves, natural light, it involved the five letter, unspoken word: FLASH.

For years (no joke!), I had always wanted to understand and use OCF, but totally put it on the back burner due to fear until last year!

Photographer friends, I’m sure you might agree (because I hope I’m not the only one!) that flash can most definitely be intimidating and feel foreign at times…BUT what I’ve learned recently is that it can also be SO empowering, as well! 

I will ALWAYS favor and LOVE natural light over flash, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t seek out to understand flash!

By no means am I a flash expert, but when I see an image come to life and look bright and airy – as a result of flash – I’m blown away every.single.time! The first time I used OCF was when I was second shooting last year,  and I believe the words that came out of my mouth were: “This is magic!”

I also recognize that not every photographer needs or uses flash or off-camera-flash (OCF)! There are many photographers who only use their on-camera flash – or they go without flash all together – and that’s totally OK, too! Every photographer’s style and approach to flash is unique, and that’s AWESOME!

As promised…below is the FIRST photo I ever took using OCF! This photo was taken before the bride and groom’s grand entrance into the reception!! I had a few moments to test out the flashes, and this was the first photo I took! I remember this so vividly because I loved how the burst of light in the background lit up the room and complimented the up-lighting so well! Ahh! I instantly wanted to learn more!

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Shot while second shooting with Brittani Elizabeth Photography!

For those of you who are still wondering what this whole OCF-thing-is-about, I’m sharing three, practical steps I took over last year to improve my understanding of OCF! These steps I took, and continue to take, have allowed me to kick my fears to the curb!!

  • Second shooting!

This was the KEY for me to learn what I wanted to adopt or continue to pursue in regards to OCF! From second shooting with photographers who ALL approached OCF very differently, I was able to learn and SEE (visual learner here!), which parts of OCF I wanted to apply to my OCF set-up!

I have taken ALL of KJ’s courses (anyone else with me?!), but this one made all of Katelyn’s other courses totally click for me!! There was a bonus video in the course that went SO, so, so into depth about OCF for close to TWO hours!!!

To finally SEE Katelyn’s setup and HEAR her thought process about WHY she was using flash in a certain way, made it all click for me! I’m such a visual learner (as I mentioned above!), so I was on cloud nine when KJ’s thought process and simple set-up finally sunk in for me! 

  • Practice, practice, practice!

My kitties and husband are my subjects ALL THE TIME at home! Our apartment is covered with many wooden walls, so practicing OCF in this environment allows me practice in a not-so-ideal space! This is also a controlled space – I don’t have subjects moving all around (for example, at a wedding), so I’m able to try something new!

When it doesn’t go the way I thought, I talk through it –  with my dear husband (thanks for listening sweetie! 😉 )! – why ‘this’ or ‘that’ didn’t result in the look I was hoping for! Ultimately, I’m able to use trial and error at home, so that when the wedding day comes around, I already know how to handle an OCF situation!

Friends, even though I’ve shared these tips, please know that I’m constantly learning how to improve my use of OCF! I’ve come to realize that it’s not a technique I can learn overnight, but strengthen each and every time I practice or apply what I’ve learned at at wedding! You’ve got this!

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below! I’d be happy to answer those for you!


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