Ashley and Jason's First Dance
Flash photography is important. I still hear lots of professional photographers say things and market themselves with phrases like, "I'm a natural light photographer." My advice to anyone looking to hire a photographer for an event or project is to interpret statements like that as caution flag at the very least. While there are lots of "natural light" photographers who create beautiful work, work that actually makes me say "wow", there will be a time and a place where natural light isn't enough. What happens when there is not enough natural light? What is that photographer going to do?
I've worked weddings where I was hired for videography and the photographer they hired switched to another, more light sensitive camera to photograph the reception because they didn't want to deal with flashes. In my opinion based on experience, this is not a stylistic choice -- the choice for them is based on their lack of understanding of flash exposure. In this one particular case the photographer said to me that they "like to capture the natural ambient light of the room" and flashes are too "harsh" in their photos. That again is a clear sign of their lack of understanding and how to expose their cameras for the ambient light while incorporating flash.
The internet is full of a gazillion resources to learn the basics of flash photography so I'm not too keen on adding to the noise with my own tips or strategies. Even more, all camera manuals (that thick book that explains the camera's functions) have a section dedicated to understanding flash photography. Read that people (to my fellow photogs). If you're looking to hire a photographer this might be an important question to ask them: "How do you incorporate flashes in your photography?" It should be fairly easy to gauge their level of understanding of camera exposure and flash exposure based on their readiness to incorporate flashes in their photography. If in their answer they are hesitant to use flashes or they give you one of those "natural light" statements then that could be an indicator that they don't fully understand the basics of exposure.
Kate Showing off her dress.This photo of Kate was taken in the middle of the day at the beach; what is typically a terrible combination for photos turned out pretty great with a little shade and a reflector.
Understanding the basics of exposure is crazy important especially in regards to wedding photography. A wedding day might require photos under a harsh mid day sun, unflattering tungsten lights indoors, scenes with intense highlights and dark shadows, sunset or dusk photos, and then the dark dance floor with various and inconsistent lighting. While flashes aren't necessary in all of those conditions, having the understanding of how to use a flash or manipulate an available light source can assist in the photographers ability to manage the light and turn 'good' photos into great photos.
Here are a few examples from last week's wedding at The Ridge Tahoe...
Flash photography is very important to what do and an invaluable tool in my story telling; it's also super fun :). And the reaction from my clients is usually always some form of "wow!" and that's exactly what I strive to achieve no matter what the conditions and variables at play. So to future brides I say this: Choose your wedding photographer carefully and examine their portfolio to see if they can create compelling images in a variety of lighting conditions. If you see it then go ahead and book them with confidence. Happy planning!
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