Flash is Beautiful December 2, 2014 – Posted in: Photography – Tags: , , , , ,

During an interview, a second shooter once told me that she didn’t believe in using a flash. I wanted to hire her to help me photograph weddings. So it was important that we come to terms on this issue.

“Why don’t you like flash?” I asked.

“Because it’s ugly,” she replied.

I was curious to know why she felt this way. So I played along for a bit to find out more.

“What’s ugly about it?”

“Well, the light is unflattering. It’s harsh. And it looks unnatural. I think brides want to see pretty pictures of themselves,” she said.

“I agree with the last part. In fact, I think most people like pretty pictures of themselves.”

I then went on to explain that the trick with flash is knowing how to use it.

Photographer David Hobby alluded to this in his foreword for Creative Flash Photography, “We quickly learned that if we took the small flashes off our cameras, safety and predictability were replaced by magic and surprise.” And with a little practice, surprise becomes art.


I understand how flash got a bad rap. All of those terrible party snapshots with compact cameras and over-exposed portraits in dimly-lit rooms would scare anyone off.  The antidote is learning how to make the flash do what you want. And that’s exactly what Tilo Gockel does in Creative Flash Photography.

Through 40 lighting tutorials, he shows you how to take control of the light for portraits, fashion, still life, products, macro, food and more. He includes technical illustrations to show you how it’s done, then artistic images to inspire your creativity. This could be one of the most valuable additions to your photography bookshelf.

After I presented my case to the second shooter, much in the same way Tilo has in his book, she paused for a moment, then asked, “So do I have to use flash for these assignments?”

“Yes, I would like you to. And I will show you how. And maybe someday soon you’ll agree with me.”

“Agree about what?”

“That flash is indeed, beautiful.”

Derrick Story is the Photography Evangelist for Rocky Nook Publishing.

PS: She went on to be my best assistant ever. And yes, she sometimes uses flash.