Sometimes its good to shake up your photographic routine a bit. It’s perfectly acceptable to be pleased with your current standard of technique and ability, but once in a while, everyone needs a push to greater achievement. Finding a newfound style can revolutionize everything about the way your style.
This last month, I recently experienced this phenomenon.
It was a grey afternoon in St. Louis; A bit chilly, a little damp. I was scheduled for an engagement shoot downtown on the waterfront. Being a photographer whose Bridal clientele ranges from Portland, OR, to Colonial Beach, VA, and everywhere in between, I don’t find myself with the opportunity to book many engagement shoots. It just happened that I was en route from a wedding the weekend prior and was able to meet with a couple who booked me for their spring wedding.
Typically, I enjoy photographing engagement portraits without an assistant or second shooter. I use the time to get to know my clients; laugh with them, find their preferences, observe the way they interact with one another. I admit, after photographing wedding parties of nearly 40, I have found engagement shoots to be laid back, original, and incredibly engaging.
This day, I kept noticing the dark tint of the sky. Cloud cover is, of course, beautiful for portraits. But this grey, overcast gloom was flattening the light on anything. My fourth glance at the clouds and I decided to call in an assistant. I was fortunate. She was available. We quickly hopped in the car and made our way into the city.
Regardless of the location, the scene, or the available light, using an assistant and additional flash lighting proved to be a win-win scenario. Photographing outside of a church beneath a dark overhang; Beneath the Gateway Arch of St. Louis; Along the waterfront; Before a luminous sky; In the midst of a grove of trees. The results were always the same: Dynamic.
Follow this strategy and you may find a little flash inspiration to add to your on location skills. [You may need to refer to your external flash manual for specific instructions.]
1. On camera flash set to Master. Dial the flash down so you have only slight frontal flash
2. Slaved flash held by an assistant. This will act as your main light. Set this light to be 2x brighter than your Master on camera flash.
3. Slaved flash should fire at your subjects from the side to create dimension and depth.
4. Slightly underexpose the image to let in additional ambient light and even out the exposure
Don’t take my word for it. Go out. Experiment. And then declare to the world your newfound skills with beautiful imagery you never thought you would capture.
[Above Image: ISO 100, f/11, 1/25s, Off camera flash -2/3]