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Tips & Tricks

How to Shoot With Direct Flash To Get An Edgy Look

By Hanssie on September 28th 2015

One of the biggest no-nos in lighting for photography is shooting with direct flash, right? At least that’s what I was told. Leave no doubt, direct flash is the easiest way to get some unflattering shots, but if you do it right, you can create really great edgy looks to your images. You’ll see direct flash used in ads from companies like American Apparel or FHM. Terry Richardson built his entire career on this method of flash in the fashion world. So, direct flash isn’t all bad, and you can certainly make a name for yourself using it to create a stylistic or editorial look.



In the following video clip from last week’s Photo Week on CreativeLive, Pye shows us how to shoot with direct flash. This was part of his master class on Working With Flash which you can get here. In the class, he talks about mixing flash with ambient light, direct flash vs. bounce flash, Multipoint lighting with flash, off camera flash and more.

Direct flash will create a side shadow around your subject, and so Pye suggests using an inexpensive bracket, called the Vello bracket, which attaches to your camera and will help you eliminate that harsh line. Watch the 6-minute video below and learn how to get that edgy, American Apparel look.

If you want to learn more about lighting, be sure to check out our Lighting 101 and Lighting 201 DVD tutorials to help you master on camera and off camera flash.


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    Flash photography is really an art. I have discovered so many tips and tricks studying lighting.
    Thanks for sharing this edgy look article on how to achieve it.

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  2. Brandon Dewey

    Great tips!

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