I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the phrase “I only shoot natural light”. In photography circles its normally use for one two reasons:
- The photographer in question knows how to use off camera flash but prefers natural light because it works better for the way they take photos.
- The person has no idea how to use off camera flash, and as a result prefers what they know over what they don’t know.
Nine out of ten times when people say they prefer natural light, it’s because they don’t know how to use flash properly.
There are some photographers I know who are very good photographers who do actually prefer natural light and have built their studios in such a way that it allows for it. They are the exception, not the rule.
The rest who prefer natural light, do so because they haven’t shot flash, don’t know how to, and don’t have the gear. They haven’t bought the gear because they don’t know how to use it. What they mean when they say “I prefer natural light” is “I’m uncomfortable shooting flash and/or I wouldn’t know where to start.”
Its a normal reaction, people seek comfort in what they know but it also makes you stagnant as a photographer.
I’m going to let you make the call on which of those categories you specifically fall into so you don’t feel like I’m judging you individually, but if you do fall into #2, you are doing yourself a disservice. Learning to use off camera flash is an incredible powerful tool to have available.
It’s not that flash makes photos look better, it’s that flash expands the ways you can take photos. It creates opportunities where they didn’t exist. Obviously, we’d all prefer to use natural light because it’s easy, but shooting natural light into the sun with a reflector is an uncomfortable situation for your model who has to stare into a reflector for an extended period of time, even if she is closing her eyes between photos.
My recommendation is to get out there, have a go and stick with it. When you have mastered it, decide whether its something you want to continue with, but ensure that you know how to use it before you make the call. I say this because bad flash will always be worse than good natural light and this creates an element of bias.