Monday, November 3, 2008

photographer call out - GET OFF YOUR BUTT

Last weekend I spent a few days in St. Louis visiting family and seeing the sights. Saturday we spent the bulk of the day in Forest Park. I could spend the rest of my life finding amazing photographs in that place. The Forest Park was the site for the 1904 World's Fair and has been turned into a great public park since. The pano above was just a quick hand-held photo that I snapped very quickly. Even in the middle of the day awful light it is clear that this park is built on a grand scale that changes every few minutes as the light shifts throughout the day and into the evening. As I stated above, we were in the park on a Saturday so it is not tough to imagine that this is a popular location to have wedding and engagement photos taken. Just a few seconds after I captured this image, a bus-limo pulled up behind me with a wedding party and their photographer. I walked off a little ways and observed for a few minutes...

Two shooters using Nikon gear with the flash bolted to the top of their cameras shooting through a sto-fen style defuser. It amazes me how lazy wedding photographers are with lighting. Especially with Nikon's built in wireless flash system they have no excuse! A few hours later we were on the main pavilion area (photo below). TONS of repeating arch patterns, expansive greens, a sun low on the horizon. I was soaking it all in. When we got in to the building pictured below there was a lady photographer shooting a couple's engagement photo against one of the stucco walls inside (strike 1), shooting with flash on camera through a Fary fong dong thingie (strike 2), and wearing high heels (strike three). Of course I guess strike one is ok ... we are in the expansive beautiful place with natural light and amazing archetechure ... but they probably wanted a stucco wall as their backdrop anyways.
photo courtisy of

As photographers we need to look past the gadgets and what is easy to become image crafters. When shooting a wedding 99.9% of all my images are shot with off camera flash through a 36" shoot through umbrella for a softer more pleasing light. When I shoot alone my flash is attached to a 2' off camera shoe cord held by my left hand. It isn't easy and it isn't fun but for goodness sake people - any joe cool can walk into a Best Buy and purchase a camera and a flash that sits on the camera.

If this is you - I am callin' you out. Stop being lazy and learn how to use a flash like a professional. Serious images require serious light. You will never get dramatic or serious light off the top of your camera. If you are a professional photographer who makes a living with your camera you are doing your clients a disservice by not using off camera flash.

If you are interested in learning more about off camera flash - look through some of my older posts - I go over some equipment I use. Stay tuned - I will also be producing online video tutorials showing you how to get more from your flash on location. My goal today was two fold. Honestly, I wanted to vent a little frustration. I also wanted to offer a way out - training and technique from this site. There are better ways to do things - so lets go over them together in the weeks to come.

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