Ohhh yes… we went there. Photographers it’s time to weigh in with your thoughts on a debate that has raged throughout photographic history. Battles have been fought over it, wars have raged over it, or, alternatively, people have occasionally said “do you use flash?” “yes” “oh right… Cool.”
The use of flash in wedding photography has obvious benefits, namely that you can have light where there is none…or little at least. You can also get certain effects with it that aren’t possible without but we’ll go there later… But it’s definitely not without its problems…
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the big Friday Fight-Out Flash Vs Natural Light debate!
IN THE RED CORNER, sticking with natural light and refusing to pick up a flashgun (possibly because it just won’t fit in her shoot sac! It’s Dom “The Tog Bride”
IN THE BLUE CORNER, as a lighting designer he’s been crafting artificial light to best effect for years and so charged (get it!) with fighting Flash’s corner, it’s Matt “The Gormless Groom”
Matt: In low-light situations flash just gives you the extra bit of light on faces that you need to make the shot. Without it people can just blend into the background too much.
Dom: The latest cameras have such good ISO’s that you don’t NEED flash to get a great image except in extreme situations. Flash may illuminate the face but it can also seriously flatten images and can look terribly out of place with the rest of the pictures.
Matt: The use of flash is about complimenting the light that is already there, not replacing it completely. Indirect flash can actually add extra sculpture to the image and change the wrong type of light for the shot into a stunning image.
Dom: Flash is incredibly distracting. You can’t be a discrete wedding photographer shooting flash! The moment you take a photo everyone knows exactly where you are and you’re never going to get a natural image. Using flash during the ceremony is particularly distracting and takes the couple out of their moment which is definitely not the idea when shooting documentary!
Matt: Sometimes the use of flash is the difference between getting the shot and not getting it. Is it worse to have a moment of distraction and capture a key moment or to let events unfold in front of you without taking any usable shots?
Dom: The time you’re most likely to want to use flash is in the evening on the dance floor. This also happens to be when people are looking a little more dishevelled and often sweating which flash accents dreadfully! If you can capture it without the use of flash it’s going to be a much more flattering image and consequently often a better picture.
Matt: Flash can be used to great effect when done correctly and actually create lighting effects that are otherwise impossible. For example with flash you can highlight the subject in the middle of the image perfectly sharp in the brighter light and have everything else twist and blur out of focus. Capturing that naturally relies on happening to come across the perfect lighting conditions which is pretty rare!
Dom: However you disguise it and however much you bounce the light Flash still looks artificial and largely wipes out textured shadows leaving you with a very plain image. If you need to add extra light then manipulating the surroundings or even moving the couple into a better lit area can present more interesting opportunities.
Matt: Flash offers you the security of knowing that regardless of the lighting conditions you can get something, and if you’re an expert at using it properly it can give you some really interesting effects. Flash is not there to replace ambient light, simply to compliment it, and without it you risk having nothing usable at all.
Dom: Flash gives an obviously artificial look to your images and wipes out the beautiful textures created by natural light. It can be highly distracting, prevent you from getting those incognito shots and lead to some rather blinded members of the wedding party! It’s not a bad tool to have in your toolkit for emergencies, but with modern camera technology they shouldn’t really be necessary.
Well, those are the arguments (or at least all the ones we could think of) but where do you stand? Keep the debate raging by leaving a comment, tweeting us with the hashtag #fridayfightout or catching us on Facebook!