Resources for Getting Started with Flash Photography

Flash Photography

Strobist Myself by Michael Theis

If there’s one phrase that can scare even the most seasoned of natural light photographers, it’s “flash photography”. Flash has a reputation for being intimidating and undesirable. But learning to use strobes (just a fancy photographer word for flashes), is actually quite simple once you get down to it. And, when used appropriately, flash enhances photographs in ways that even the most resistant ambient light photographers can appreciate.

Versatility is one of the main benefits of using strobes. Even if they don’t use flash regularly, photographers who understand the basics of flash photography can work in less than ideal conditions to produce the shots they or their clients want. Flash can fill in unwanted shadows or supplement when natural light is not adequate. It can change the mood of a scene or just make a portrait more interesting.

The key to getting started with flash photography is to start simply. Beginners need nothing more than an off-camera flash (also known as strobes, Speedlights, and Speedlites) with manual settings, a light stand, and a set of triggers so you can fire your flash from somewhere other than your camera’s hot shoe.

Once you’ve purchased or borrowed your flash kit, you can begin taking control of your lighting. Check out the following free resources for specifics about gear and information about how to use flash effectively:

  1. Lighting 101
    Follow Strobist’s popular step-by-step guide to using flashes. It starts with gear recommendations and then moves on to carefully constructed lessons. Many photographers begin learning to use strobes with this indispensable resource.
  2. Photoflex Lighting School
    Several lessons provide a basic rundown of lighting technique for those new to using strobes. From basics to beauty lighting, there’s a tutorial available for any style of photography.
  3. Flash Photography on a Budget
    Mark Warren gives an overview of buying flash photography gear on a budget. He shares his suggestions for strobes, triggers, and stands.
  4. 7 Ways to Shoot Flattering Portrait Photography with a Single Flash
    Don’t know where to start with lighting people? Take a look at Adorama’s quick list of ideas for taking portraits using just one strobe. Try out all seven suggestions to see how flash placement impacts your photos.
  5. Lighting Studio
    Photographers learning to use flash do a lot of experimenting, and it’s easy to forget exactly where lights and subjects were placed. Remember your setups with this free Android app that lets you easily create lighting diagrams.

What are your favorite resources when it comes to flash photography? Any tips you want to share? Let us know in the comments area below!

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Profile photo of Nicoal Price About Nicoal Price

​Nicoal is a New England photographer with a penchant for learning. Her work ranges from nature-inspired portraiture to outdoor product photography. Visit for more info.

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