Have you been wondering, “Should I use Flash for Indoor Photography?” My answer is a whole hearted “yes!”. I started incorporating flash into my in-home photography sessions over the past two years and have seen some significant benefits for my business. I’d like to talk about them today with the hope of giving you the encouragement you need to dig in and get comfortable with flash photography.
I often hear from photographers that they know they probably need to learn it. They know that it would be the key to them feeling more comfortable about taking on in-home sessions. They just don’t know where to start! I get it. When done incorrectly, flash photography can look awful. I’m serious. For lack of a better term, it can look so “flashy” and unnatural. But flash can also be used to mimic and amplify natural light in a way to elevates the quality of your work. If you’re looking for some motivation, let’s dive into the ways that flash can elevate your work.
Weather and Flash for Indoor Photography
If you’ve been booking photography sessions for any amount of time, you know that weather can be your nemesis when scheduling outdoor sessions. When I have an outdoor session coming up, I obsess over the weather. Will we need to change the time of our session? Do I have a day open I can reschedule it to? At what point should I contact my clients? Should I wait and see if the weather will change? It’s mentally exhausting!
When I first started booking in-home photography sessions, I thought, “Surely, I wont have to worry about the weather. We’re inside!” If you’ve read my first post in this series about using flash for indoor photography, you’ll know that I quickly found that this isn’t always the case. When relying solely on natural light, rainy, foggy days can throw major kinks in your plans.
This can particularly prove to be a problem when scheduling newborn sessions. At my home near Chattanooga, TN, we often have weeks of non-stop rain and fog in the winter months. The window for photographing newborns can be somewhat short. A lot of families really want to capture their infants when they are freshly born. As a photographer and business person, you don’t want to be put in a situation where you can not meet your client’s needs due to the weather, especially when the session is indoors.
Personally, now that I know how to use flash, I love having a generous sprinkling of indoor sessions on my calendar. When I see them coming up on my schedule, I know that I can count on the stability of that session. I also don’t feel the need to waste my mental energy and attention on watching the weather.
“Consistency” has become a bit of a buzzword in the photography world. The argument goes: presenting work that is consistent in quality, color, exposure, and posing will help clients feel more secure about booking you. They will feel like they know exactly what they are going to get. Clients won’t feel the insecurity of taking a risk on you. This allows you the photographer to book clients more easily and at much higher prices.
Are you struggling to achieve consistency in your work between your outdoor photography and indoor photography? Then perhaps it’s time for you to use flash for indoor photography sessions. Personally, using flash was a complete game-changer for my work. Shooting at golden hour, my outdoor work was warm, bright, and sharp. Prior to learning flash, my in-home portraits often looked grainy, dull, and dark. Now, the colors and sharpness of my in-home sessions match that of my outdoor sessions. Honestly, I think the quality of my indoor work sometimes surpasses my outdoor work because I’m more in control of crafting the light and don’t have to worry about color casts.
If you visit my website or instagram, you can see for yourself. My outdoor portraits utilize natural light. My indoor portraits from the last 18+ months all incorporate flash. The exposure and clarity of my images are consistent. The same is true of my skin tones! Of course, I also make specific choices when building my website portfolio and instagram grid, pairing colors that will complement each other. Not every session makes it on my grid for this reason. However, this does not negate the fact that since incorporating flash, my indoor photography work has drastically increased in quality. Most of my client’s don’t even realize it’s flash photography!
If you’re wondering, “should I use flash for indoor photography?” consider some of the key ways flash can bring some new freedoms to your work and schedule. When using purely natural light for my indoor session, I often found the placement of my subject was dictated by the location of windows. It didn’t matter what cool architectural features a room may have. The available light dictated my composition. When you are in control of your own light, you can place your subject almost anywhere you would like within the house!
While I alluded to this in the weather section, learning flash photography also brought more freedom to the times I could schedule sessions. My outdoor sessions mainly take place in the golden hours. While I love photographing my clients at sunset, I also like having some evenings at home. Feeling confident in my ability to produce quality work during indoor sessions has made me much more willing and excited to open up my calendar for in-home, daytime sessions when my children are at school. If you lack of flash knowledge is holding you back from taking on daytime in-home sessions, it’s time to learn. Your family schedule will thank you for it!
Prior to using flash, I frequently used high ISOs to make my indoor portraits. This resulted in a lot of grain in my images. This was especially true when I had to raise the exposure drastically. As you can tell, my style is typically light and bright. While this may not make a huge difference staring at an image on the small screen of your phone, it can make a difference if your client wants a large print.
I started incorporating more print products into my business model last year once I felt I had a handle on flash. This has brought a new level of abundance to my business. Many of my clients really appreciate this service. Because I am able to keep my ISO at 800 or below when using flash and achieve a near perfect in-camera exposure, I feel a new confidence about printing my work. If my clients want at 20X30, I’m no longer anxious about it the way I was when I would push my ISO to 6400 or drastically under-expose in an attempt to keep a lower ISO.
Have I convinced you it’s time to learn flash photography for your indoor sessions? Comment below with the hang ups or questions you have surrounding using flash for your in-home photography sessions. I would love to help! I’m actually in the process of developing some resources for educating photographers about flash photography during in-home sessions. You can join the email list for updates by clicking this link.
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