You’re Just a Simple $20 Accessory Away From Much Better Portraits Using Flash

Just a quick tip today, but I think it’s an important one. Last week I was talking to a photographer and he told me had a hot-shoe flash and when I asked him how he liked it, his exact response was, “I hate it.” He hates it because he thought he would be beautiful portraits of his kids with it, but when he actually wound up with is just a brighter, harsher version of what he was getting with the pop-up flash on his camera.

First, he has to use some kind of wireless transmitter to get his flash unit off the top of his camera, and over to the side (that’s a given), but that still won’t do the trick. The sad thing is — he spend nearly $600 for his flash, but he only needed to spend $20 more to actually fall in love with it.

The secret is diffusion (putting something in front of your flash to soften the light). See below.

Above: The shot on the left has the flash off the camera in the proper position, but it’s just straight flash. Compare the one on the right; look at the difference in the quality of the light, and the softness of the shadows. This image is tremendously more flattering for your subject. All that took was holding a $20 diffuser (well, $19.90 from B&H Photo — a Westcott 1-stop diffuser) in front of the flash. That’s it. No fancy tricks. No amazing flash technique. Just a stinkin’ $20 handheld diffuser from Westcott (not a reflector — a diffuser).

That illustration above is taken from one of my most popular online classes ever. It’s called “Just One Flash” and you can watch it right here (if you’re not a KelbyOne member, you can join for a month for just $20 and watch this class right now).

I start from scratch in that class, so if you ever wanted to really, finally fall in love with your flash, you gotta check it out. It’s a short class (we shoot indoors and on location), but it will change how you feel about your flash forever (and best of all — it doesn’t matter which make or model of flash you have). I put the trailer for the class below.

Hope you found that helpful.

Have a rockin’ Tuesday everybody!



P.S. If you’re going to the Photoshop World Conference in Orlando next month; stay where the instructors and KelbyOne crew are staying — our official conference host hotel, the Hyatt Recency. It’s connected to the Convention Center so you’re right there in the middle of everything and we have a special deal for PSW attendees. Details found here.


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