Photography Cheat Sheet: Flash Photography Tips and Tricks

Working with flash may seem tricky if you’re just starting out. But with this quick photography cheat sheet, you’ll have a bunch of simple tricks for shooting with flash.

Flash photography may seem daunting at first, but knowing how to work with lighting equipment like flashes and strobes will expand your skills and let you work in different shooting situations. It’s an especially valuable skill if you want to do portrait photography. Whether you’re curious about using flash and pro lighting setups in the studio, or simply want to learn how to make the most out of the flash unit you just bought for your camera, this cheat sheet should help you get started.

To help beginners get a better understanding of photography concepts, Russian photographer and educator Oleg Samoilov put together a bunch of tips and tricks and made cheat sheets out of them. Below, you’ll find some that tackle flash photography. Better keep them handy for your next practice with flash!

If you’d like to practice with your camera’s built-in flash first, try his tip for creating soft light. Built-in flashes usually spray harsh light on your subject or scene, producing unflattering results. But his tip to hold a mirror or piece of foil at a 45-degree angle below the flash will direct the light to the ceiling to diffuse the light. This will produce a softer light that will eliminate harsh shadows on your subject.
When working in the studio, you’ll often have the choice to use a number of continuous lights and strobes to get the results you want. Whether you opt for steady light sources or off-camera flashes, knowing the different kinds of equipment you can use and how to position them around your subject will help you get the best results.
Lastly, if you’re wondering how to use a flash unit that you can attach to your camera, the cheat sheet above shows two ways to get better results. Pointing the flash head directly at your subject will create a harsh, flat light. But directing it up, or angling it to bounce the light off the walls and ceiling will create even light.
When you’re ready to learn more, go ahead and check out our other resources on flash photography.

Images by Oleg Samoilov. Used with permission.