Many photographers start their careers by learning natural lighting techniques. Once these skills are established, complacency can set in and the photographer may choose not to stretch to learn more advanced lighting skills. When photographers do this, they leave a significant amount of value on the table.
There are many ways to learn Off Camera Flash (OCF) to increase your value both technically and in the market as a photographer. This article will discuss the many ways OCF can transform your job and why diving into learning this skill set will transform the value of your job.
Technical advantages of the OCF
Lighting and environmental control
When you use OCF, you are no longer limited by the time of day or the lighting conditions in which you are shooting. This is because you can have more control over ambient light, the direction and quality of light, and how much you want to illuminate. environment. When these factors come together, you gain 100% creative control over the outcome of your product. This is not the case with natural light, where you are limited to the early morning or evening hours when the light becomes ideal.
Give dimension to your work
When you illuminate your subject with artificial light, you can create separation between your subject and the background. This creates what some photographers call a “pop” in the image. It’s basically adding a new level of dimension that you aren’t able to create in any other way to your image. This not only brings creative control over how you will contrast your subject against the background, but also how you accentuate the subject in the frame. Ultimately, this leads to a very dynamic image that particularly stands out.
When you learn the skills necessary to be proficient in OCF or artificial lighting, you open yourself up to a vast world of creativity. Not only can you control every element of your image, but you can add a host of elements that can translate your creative vision into reality. It could be colored gels to create a moody portrait. You may want to add additional lights to mimic the setting sun or add hair light to your subject to create an elevated look. There are a number of options you can implement that essentially result in creative freedom and allow you to really communicate your vision in your work.
Marketable Benefits of OCF
In reality, you will find a separation of photographers in your area: those who use OCF and those who do not. You’ll also see a broad segmentation of what photographers using OCF are able to charge their clients versus those who don’t. This is basically due to a higher quality end product. That’s not to say that natural light images can’t be high quality or have similar market value. However, this means that images created with OCF tend to have a more refined look and therefore may be marketed at a higher price than other images.
When shooting with OCF, your portfolio will most definitely be enhanced with these types of images. You will have a greater range of services that you can offer to your customers, and therefore can increase your prices. This is a strategy by which you can differentiate yourself from other photographers in your market.
Tips for getting started with OCF
Don’t be overwhelmed
If you’re considering getting started with OCF, the key is not to get overwhelmed with the technical details of this skill. Don’t go consuming everything online on this subject, or you will easily overwhelm yourself. Learn the basics of OCF from 1 or 2 YouTube videos and get out there and practice!
Start with a light and a modifier
There are a multitude of products on the market for all budgets to get started. Find a simple flash or strobe that fits your budget and a simple modifier (like a softbox), and start with those as your basic kit. You’ll be surprised at the amazing images you can create with just one light and a simple modifier.
Practice practice and practice some more
The sooner you can prove to yourself that with certain basic skills you can elevate the images you create, the more confidence you will have to continue developing those skills. The fastest way to reach this milestone is to practice as much as possible. Recruit your kids, spouse, friends or neighbors and get a first practice behind you. Allow yourself to fail and learn from your mistakes. This skill will take a bit of time, but once you master the basics, you can progress quite quickly.
Work with a mentor
One of the best things you can do is find a more experienced photographer who has the skills you want and work with them. Ask if you can follow them on a shoot or if you can help them on a project. You will then have the opportunity to see how they do their job and why they make the decisions they make. As you progress, they can provide very valuable feedback on your work and suggest how you could improve.
Develop an OCF portfolio and start marketing
Once you’ve mastered the basics, start creating an image portfolio. It pays to compare your OCF images to the rest of your portfolio to see the difference your new skills are making to your work. Additionally, you will need a core portfolio that you can use to market your new skills to future clients. Be sure to raise your prices to reflect your higher quality work and skills.
Learning OCF has many benefits, the most important being that it improves the quality of the work you create and improves your ability to charge more for your work. With a little research, buying a basic kit, and practicing, you can transform the work you do and become closer to the photographer you’ve always wanted to be.