Advocate Photo Blog

Don't be Afraid to Flash

In Advocate Photo Blog

Nicolas Galindo

By Nicolas Galindo
July 28, 2017 at 10:57 p.m.

I went most of my college photography career afraid to use a strobe, more commonly called a flash. It was in part because I really didn't know how to use one and also because my first college photo professor was very adamant about not using one. I remember him consistently saying that you shouldn't use a strobe, it's distracting and calls attention to yourself, which as a photojournalist, you're trying to be a fly on the wall to capture those rare, intimate moments. Having a, quite literal, blinding light flash every time you push the shutter can definitely cause some head turns.


However, after completing my first semester with that professor my next professor was very pro-strobe. He would push us to use one more and more as we progressed through the program. He'd show us some of his work and some of the things/ effects you could achieve using a strobe. Of course, some of the students, myself included, would push back by saying the last professor we had doesn't believe in using them so we shouldn't either. His counter argument was spot on:


"It's just another piece of equipment," he would say. "Another tool to have in your camera bag to give you some more diversity."


After awhile, I started to believe him and decided I needed to play with using a flash more in my work. I started by just using the built in on-camera flash. Trying different ideas and things all the while slowly realizing, that I need to get an actual speedlight.


Before coming to The Victoria Advocate for this internship, I purchased an off-brand strobe that had a remote. I started messing with the thing the very day it landed at my doorstep. I've used that strobe in all sorts of capacities. Using it for fill light in portraits, helping to add dynamic lighting, highlighting a foreground element in a long exposure, all the way down to just using it to photograph in the dark.


Having a strobe in your camera bag opens up a wide array of possibilities for a photographer. Sure, it's great to make an excellent photograph using available light and a strobe isn't always practical in certain situations. None the less, every photographer shouldn't be so afraid or intimidated by using a strobe that they essentially swear off on ever using one. Just think of all the photo possibilities you're missing out on by being stubborn. After all, it's not like you have to use a strobe every time, but if you don't use one or don't know how to use one to some degree, you're severely limiting yourself. 



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