Learn Bounce Flash: Quick and Easy Lighting

Soft and beautiful lighting is the quintessential ideal for many portrait photographers, but what do you do when you need to work quickly in multiple locations?

Coming from Taylor Jackson is a behind-the-scenes video of his shooting strategy for portraits and details that he uses during his wedding work. The first half of his presentation goes over several options only using bounce flash while eventually moving into modifier use. Though his breakdown is not technical, Jackson explains and works through several scenes that emphasize that you don’t need light modifiers if you aren’t truly needing to keep your light output in a single direction.

With the emphasis on modifiers and types of lighting at the forefront of the conversations among portrait photographers, it’s nice to see a different way to shoot that removes many of those obstacles. At times, adding more equipment in a scene may be to the detriment of the photography as a whole, while using the scene itself to help create the lighting can help build a much more authentic image that still tells a story.

Do you use a mix of bounce flash and modifiers in your imagery or do you side more with one versus the other? Likewise, are you looking and finding natural light bounce in your scenes like Jackson did to create the directional lighting in your portraits? Share some of your images below and tell us what lighting you used or were looking for.

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Nice. I think a umbrella is fast and easy, but realy it's a pain with modifier outside, specialy
If you want soft light. Still would be fun to see this type of lighting in a forrest, or a beach:)

Dan Howell's picture

Removing shadows from images is not the same thing as lighting. His use of the strobe actually harmed the potential of those images which in most cases would have been better sticking to natural light. Suggesting that filling in the shadows makes in image more 3-dimensional is just plainly inaccurate. Equally bad was suggesting that the combination of raw and bounced light was 'near perfect light'.

I use strobe on location frequently so I'm certainly not opposed to the concept, but the setups employed here are far from recommended.

Well he might not be orthodox but some of those images look pretty good to me. I wish I could shoot outside without a huge modifier so I am interested. I am sure both him and I also would not mind being educated in good ways to shoot outside and get good soft light, without a huge modifier. I think bouncing a flash creates good results, or not?

Dan Howell's picture

Open shade. He literally posed his model in nice open shade which is soft useful light and then defeated it with basically a speed light directly hitting model with some fill from wall 'near perfect'. A more useful and educational approach would have been to talk about how angle and distance have an effect on lighting (not just illumination). He, being sponsored by a strobe maker, presented a simplistic methodology that might or might not work in other situations without really providing a knowledge base for learning about lighting.

Jullian Valencia's picture

I'm not hating on Taylor Jackson but this one he should have stayed away from. There are far better photographers covering the same lighting approach. He threw a filter over the images and called it a day.