Natural Light Photographers Need Not Apply

I’ve heard photographers say they are natural light photographers and never use a flash. For those that don’t know what natural light photographers are, they are photographers that only use the ambient light of the environment as their light source. Whenever I hear a photographer say that, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s because they don’t understand how to use artificial lighting. If they are a professional photographer, the second thing I think is that they are limiting themselves from the images they can make. Having an understanding of how to use a flash is a great tool to have in your bag. In some environments, using a flash is essential and a requirement.
So why don’t they use a flash? My belief is that it’s because they don’t understand how to. Flashes can be your main source of light or can add to the ambient light that already exist. The key is to know when to use it and how. Using a flash improperly can lead to washed out and flat images.
Last night was an annual holiday dinner party for a local group and I had the pleasure of covering their festivities. As soon as I walked into the restaurant, I knew not even an f1.2 lens would be enough and out came the flashes.

Restaurant signage. No flash used here.
f2.8, 1/100, 1600

A balance of ambient and flash was used to capture Mathew at his post.
f2.8, 1/25, 1250

All flash baby! Almost no ambient light was available. I was happy just to have the camera’s focus lock on.
f4, 1/30, 800

As the band played, I stashed one of my speedlites behind them.
f4, 1/30, 800


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