Fierce Red-Head Mountain Top Shoot (free video!)

Creating the image in your mind is never easy, but today I will show you how to make it possible using flash and just how easy it can really be! This past fall, I ventured out to Colorado to work with a really cool lighting company called Westcott. They hired me to go into some crazy locations and show off the power of their lighting modifiers and what they can do. We shot a whole bunch of videos that I will share with you all for FREE, and one of them was with their fierce red-head on top of a mountain. We headed up to this sweet location where the trees broke open and allowed us to see the landscape of Colorado in the background. The issue was: The natural light was terrible! At that time of day, with our subject placed where we could see the beautiful mountains in the background, the light was basically unusable without some serious diffusion panels and reflectors to help. What I LOVE about using flash, is that I can create incredible images no matter what the ambient light is doing. Then, when we ALSO have great ambient light, I can make an image that is crazy cool. Step 1 First thing I did was simply put a flash in a SIMILAR position as the sun light (in this case to camera left). Step 2 I placed the center of that light (my Elinchrom Ranger AS Speed) with the attached Rapid Box XXL from Westcott on it slightly above the center of her eye line. Placing in at this height is CRITICAL to the catch light... Read More

Cyber Monday is here! Save 60% on Workshops and Courses!

We have massive savings in our storefront and we don’t want you to miss this opportunity to get one of our available tools for 60% off that can change your business forever that is 100% guaranteed! Visit the storefront now! The Hottest Selling Items: Buy The Store If you want to have a thriving business that gives you a great income and every tool you need to shoot incredible images, then you need this bundle. It will give you everything you need to know to take your shooting & business to the next level. Includes: The Complete Wedding Course ($500 value) The 6-Figure Business Course ($500 value) IN-CAMERA: Light ($249 value) IN-CAMERA: Natural Light ($249 value) Lighting Fast Post-Production ($249 value) Reception Lighting Made Easy ($249 value) Harvest Business Workshop Studio Lighting Made Easy ($249 value)  Save 70% off the regular price of $2,495 and get all of this for just $849! BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! ($87 value) Grab the bundle now! The Complete Wedding Course (NEW!) The Complete Wedding Course is almost here (early spring 2017)! Follow us along on an entire REAL wedding shot LIVE in Nashville, TN! Walk with us in incredible HD footage as we guide you through our entire approach to photographing amazing images no matter what type of wedding day you are dealt. BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! This Complete Wedding Course will cover: All aspects of the wedding day (getting ready, portraits, ceremony, reception, lighting, locations, posing, cameras and lenses and more) Interaction with their clients to get the best images possible Controlling the wedding day schedule to... Read More

Does “Diffusion” Actually Soften Light?

“Soft light is a thing of beauty in photography – finding it is the real trick.” -Zach Gray There is some information in the photography world that says diffusion can make your flash images look better by “softening” the light. Today we are going to explore this and see if it is true or false. When we first started shooting, the first thing we bought was a Canon 580ex speedlight so we could light our subjects at dark receptions. The issue with that light was if we pointed it directly at our subject, or even moved it off-camera and pointed it at our subject, we would get lots of contrast and “hard” lighting on our subjects. Hard lighting is caused by having a small light source and the result is having “specular highlights” or bright spots right next to dark spots that create lots of contrast. You can see when you use a small light source like the one used above, that you get a very defined line from highlight to shadow, and the skin can look worse than it really is. There are some hot spots on the right side of the frame and you can see that “specularity” we mention earlier.  This lighting is not right or wrong, but it definitely is not forgiving when not used just right. Does Diffusion Really Solve this Problem and make light softer?  Early on, we got sold on this idea that if you added “diffusion” (or something that evened out the light coming from our flash), we could then get soft light. The myth here is that there is only a partial truth in that.... Read More

Small Flashes with Stunning Light (video!)

When out on-location doing portraits for weddings, seniors or any type of shoot, sometimes you need an EASY and portable way to get the job done AND make the images look beautiful. Speedlites are great for portability, but other than not having a lot of power output, their biggest issue is the QUALITY of the light is not so good. They look harsh and “flashy” and rarely produce AMAZING light. In this short video shot on-location in Nevada, we show you how to not only execute great flash shots using a speedlite, but how to make that light look AMAZING on your subject!     Gear used: Canon 85 1.2 L lens  Canon 5d3 Body Cyber Sync Transmitters and receivers (the CST and CSRB models) Rapid Box 26 inch from Westcott Lighting with the deflector... Read More

FREE Webinar! 3 Simple Keys to Reception Lighting Made Easy

  Here’s the bottom line: we’re doing a free webinar this Monday, Sep. 7, but spaces are limited! So make sure you sign up… Register for 3 Keys to Reception Lighting Made Easy Webinar For the past several years, we’ve heard heard from literally thousands of photographers who have all shared the same struggle – how to get great lighting in not-so-great scenarios. (Top Image: Horrible lighting available. Bottom Image: Bringing in our own lights to capture a dynamic shot) Nothing will kill your photography career faster than poorly lit images. No matter the setting, if you don’t have great lighting, you aren’t going to get great images. And the truth is you have more control over this than you realize. But most people don’t know where to start. That’s why we’re excited to share with you a live workshop we’re teaching this Monday at no charge to you. We’ll teach you three simple keys we’ve been using for years to get great reception lighting every time using off-camera flash. By the end of this webinar, you’ll learn: * How to handle the worst lighting situations and still get incredible reception images! * The best way to flatter your clients with flash * How to easily use off-camera flash for incredible results And more! Almost every time we do a webinar, they tend to max out on capacity. So don’t wait! Register for the webinar here. See you... Read More

3 Reception Lighting Tips Every Photographer Can’t go Without

“The most difficult part of shooting a reception is walking into the unknown.”  -Jody Gray No one likes being caught off-guard, and shooting wedding receptions can have many unknowns. We wanted to address a few of the problems wedding photographers can encounter. Problem 1:  When you walk into any reception, you need to quickly assess the situation, make a decision on HOW you are going to light it, and then set up your gear (oh yeah, and take amazing images!). It can be super fast-paced at that moment, and can cause some anxiety each time you shoot a wedding. How to Solve this stress-inducing problem: 1. Send out a questionnaire before the wedding (ours has 56 questions on it!) and have part of that questionnaire ask what the bride and groom will be doing when they FIRST walk into the reception. Will they be introduced and go straight into first dances, or will dinner start? Once you know that, then you know what you need to be prepped for. 2. We also always ask the bride and groom to give us 10 minutes from the time we all arrive at the reception to when they come into the hall. This gives us the time to assess the room, set up our gear, and take a few test shots. That way we never miss a key shot that is happening with our clients! Problem 2:  The other huge problem that you run into at wedding receptions is getting great quality light on your subject with off-camera flash.Sometimes we can simply bounce flash and that is awesome when we can do it. But other... Read More

3 Reception Lighting Tips Every Photographer Can’t Live Without

“The most difficult part of shooting a reception is walking into the unknown.” -Jody Gray Problem 1:  When you walk into any reception, you need to quickly asses the situation, make a decision on HOW you are going to light it, and then set up your gear (oh yeah, and take amazing images!). It can be super fast-paced at that moment, and can cause some anxiety each time you shoot a wedding. How to Solve this stress inducing problem:  1. Send out a questionnaire before the wedding (ours has 56 questions on it!) and have part of that questionnaire ask what the bride and groom will be doing when they walk into the reception. Will they be introduced and go straight into first dances, or will dinner start? Once you know that, then you know what you need to be prepped for walking in. 2. We always then ask the bride and groom to give us 10 minutes from the time we all arrive at the reception, to when they come into the hall. This gives us the time to asses the room, set up our gear, and take a few test shots. That way we never miss a key shot that is happening with our clients!     Problem 2:   The second huge problem that you run into at wedding receptions is getting great quality light on your subject with off-camera flash. Sometimes we can simply bounce flash and that is awesome when we can do it. But other times the room just does not allow that, so we need to use off-camera flash AND make it look... Read More

How to Master Reception Lighting Once & For All!

Can you answer “YES!” to any of the below questions? Do you ever feel anxious heading into a wedding reception about the lighting situation? Have you ever looked at your flash in your hand and wondered if it’s going to be able to do the job you want it to do? Have you ever looked at your reception shots knowing they could be better but not quite sure how to get them there? We know many of you are answered YES to these questions, because we have been hearing your pain for years. We have sat down one-on-one with many photographers and heard them voice the above worries.  Thousands of wedding photographers have these exact same concerns. You are not alone. We’ve heard you. This is exactly why we have this brand new project that we are beyond excited about. We have spent 5 months creating this. This is the solution. This is the answer. This will solve your reception lighting problems. It’s Finally Here! IN-CAMERA Lighting: Low-Light Receptions Made Easy  You’ve asked…. You’ve waited… And now, it’s here!!!! The IN-CAMERA: Low-Light Receptions Made Easy video workshop will:  Equip you to use your speedlite for incredible results Show you easy to use off-camera flash techniques for killer results when you can’t bounce flash Boost your confidence in any low-lit situation Teach you our time-tested and simple to understand Reception Lighting System Show you how to nail exit shots even in pitch black environments Give you complete confidence shooting receptions and low-lit events! The IN-CAMERA: Low-Light Receptions Made Easy video workshop includes:  2+ hours of training as you join Zach &... Read More

5 Big Giveaways Start Now! Enter now!

We are super excited to be giving away 5 (you read that right!) Low-Light Flash Kits valued at $550! If you shoot in low-light situations then this giveaway is one you don’t want to miss out on! All you have to do to enter is CLICK HERE! Once you do, you will have a chance to get 3 more entries by sharing about the giveaway to your friends which will increase your chances big time! Good luck! PS. For those of you who want to be able to confidently rock your low-lit shoots, specifically RECEPTIONS, then we have some exciting news headed your way soon, so stay tuned!... Read More

Multiple Speedlites with high quality lighting | Video

If you have ever wanted to have a super light flash set-up that is able to create studio quality lighting while shooting on-location, then you are not alone. We have used speedlites for years, but always felt like we were compromising light quality when doing so. Now, with these new modifiers we have, today we are going to show you how to create some really cool photos using speedlites and a steel wall!... Read More

1 simple trick to making awesome flash images

(Image that was set-up and shot at a real wedding within 60 seconds using today’s technique)   If you’re looking for the secret to making your off-camera lighting shots look exactly the way you want  – we’ve got the answer in two words: Lighting Ratios Understanding and executing lighting ratios is one of the most important elements to creating off-camera lighting shots that look the way you want them to. I hate being confused and REALLY hate being stuck in front of a client wondering how to get a shot to look right. Today’s lighting ratio tip is going to solve that problem for you with many of your off-camera flash shots!   Whether you go BIG or small with off-camera lighting, you need to know how much light to put on your subject vs. how much is in the background in order to get the right look. And getting the right look using the right ratio of light is going to give your images their unique style and make your shots stand out! The above images are shot at 3 different lighting ratios. The first is 3 to 1, which means that the main light is 2 times brighter than the ambient light that was already hitting our subjects face. The second shot is 5 to 1 lighting and has the off-camera light set at 3 times the power of the ambient light hitting her face and now (because of the unique conditions of the light on this day), the background starts to get detail in it (I am giving these ratios based on the light on her face, NOT... Read More

BIG light on a small budget + Giveaway!

This post is not only on how to get AWESOME light on a small budget, BUT, we are giving away the gear we are highlighting today! (Giveaway info is at the bottom of this post!) Today we are going to talk about using BIG lights. We mean, REALLY BIG LIGHTS but on a small budget. Now, when you go out to shoot, it is nice to be nimble and fast and move from shot to shot really easily. But sometimes, you just want to take some of the images from your shoot and make them look really different OR, you just don’t have any great light and need to make your images look awesome with some stand out off-camera lighting. MOST of us look at the above shot and all we see is lots of gear and assume it costs a lot and then tune out… but don’t do this! STAY WITH US! :) We are going to demonstrate how to shoot images exactly like the ones you see above but using your speedlite and a cheap modifier that is super easy to use. Large Light Rocks Plain and simple, large light looks AMAZING on skin. It looks like butter when it hits your subject and is incredible. The times that you love shooting natural light most is just after the sun dips and we get that “golden hour” of light. The reason that light looks so good is because the sun itself (which is small in comparison to you) is no longer lighting your subject, but the SKY (what the sun is lighting) is now your main light. The sky is HUGE... Read More

How to achieve ultra-soft lighting with flash

There is nothing more beautiful than some buttery natural light at just the right time of day. But what if you want to get that ultra-soft looking light when using flash? Many times flash can look, well, “flashy.” But, if we really know how to finess it and move that light to the right position, we can truly get some very soft light that looks incredible. We have starting using what is called Feathering, in order to make any light modifier (large or small) look softer that it normally does. We do this by moving the light off-center so it is not directly pointing at our subject. When you do this, you help even out the light (since light tends to be strongest in the center of most light sources), and the results can be stunning. In the video below that we shot with our friends over at Westcott Lighting, you will notice that instead of shooting the light straight at her and above (glamour lighting) I tilted the light so it was almost pointing downward to the floor, then moved the light slightly in front of her so just the very edge of the light source was hitting her. When done properly, this evens out the light source and lets just the ultra soft edging of the light hit and light her face.   Check out the video below which showcases just how we accomplished this lighting! Light pointing down and slightly in front of our subject. with reflector underneath (Clam Shell Lighting) No reflector underneath.   To see another example of what else  light feathering can do, check... Read More

The FREE Quick Start Guide to Off-Camera Flash eBook is here!

We just finished writing a new eBook called The Quick-Start Guide to Off-Camera Flash and it is FREE for anyone who is on our email update list! Do you realize that over 23,000 photographers are in that community and you could be one of them? We are committed to making tools that work and help photographers reach their goals and this is just one small gesture to those who are on the inside track with us. Oh, and we have MORE to come very soon :)  You don’t want to miss out. To get the new book, just sign up for our email updates above or click HERE and then you will immediately get the new eBook Quick-Start Guide!   If you guys love this, will you do us a HUGE favor? Share it with those you influence!   Tweet it out by clicking HERE!     Or, copy and paste the below into Facebook and share this with your fans! I just recieved @ZachandJody’s brand new Quick Start Guide to Off-Camera Flash and you can get it for free... Read More

Reception Lighting Basics – Bounce Flash

There is NO greater photography fear than walking into a reception hall and not being sure if you can capture the moments the way you envision them. There are sooo many variables in dark-lit venues that can sometimes be daunting! You have to be able to overcome all sorts of lighting issues like bouncing light off of glass windows, mirrors, dark or heavily colored walls, walls that are so far away you don’t have enough power to reach them. There is a lot to talk about and we are going to cover all of it, and today we will start with the basics. BOUNCE FLASH. Today we are going to keep it simple and build our foundation for shooting the first dance. So, we walk into the reception and here is the scenario (in posts to come we are going to work our way through other scenarios that pose other lighting problems and how to conquer them). We have: – A dance floor with a stage or DJ in corner of the room – Light or white ceilings and white walls – Our super hot couple about to have their first dance What do we do to get great looking images in this scenario using nothing but our bounce flash that is on our camera? 1. We find the best place to shoot from The best vantage point to shoot from in this type of situation is NOT where the crowd of people are standing and watching the first dance. Usually, family friends are standing in a half-moon or U shape around the couple and everyone is facing somewhat... Read More

IN-CAMERA Color Correction with Flash (Video)

Have you ever walked into a reception, ready to bounce your on-camera flash off the walls, only to find out the walls are red, green or worse? What happens when you bounce that light off of them? Your flash reflects that colored light onto your subject, and then you are trying to edit your client in post so they don’t look like the Hulk. Bummer! Solution to this Annoying Problem If we can neutralize that color from the wall, then we can get great color on our subjects at each shoot!   We promised a video on our post from last Tuesday, so here it is! This video builds on last weeks ideas about using custom white balance to get natural looking skin tones and reduce editing time. This video is going to show you guys how we get a custom white balance when using FLASH. The first half shows you how we do it with off-camera flash, and the second half shows you how we use it for on-camera bounce flash when we have a weird colored green wall. (I know I am going hear about, so, yes, I say “awesome” WAY too many times in the video. I am working on breaking that habit. :)) Check it out!       PS. If you thought this video was helpful, then why don’t you Tweet about it by clicking HERE! You can also copy and paste the below to share this post on Facebook.   “I just learned how to get rid of color casts on my shots when bouncing light off of walls at a reception by... Read More

3 easy tricks to Take Locations from Boring to Brilliant

We are Zach and Jody Gray and we have had the amazing privilege of working with photographers all over the world enabling them to shoot better images, run more profitable business and live the lives they’ve dreamed of. We hope you enjoy this post on off-camera lighting! -Zach & Jody     Isn’t it great how EVERY time you go out on a shoot, all the locations are just picture perfect, the lighting is awesome and you don’t even need to think about what to do because all the shots just “happen” the whole session? I love that! Unfortunately, that actually never happens. MOST of the time when we are out on-location shooting, we create images in places that at first glance, don’t always appear to be amazing. Today, we want to share with you the 3 tricks that we use to make average locations look AMAZING! We will be using 3 set-ups from our recent New York City photo-shoot workshop that we did with Adorama.   Set-Up #1 – Reflective Background with BAD lighting: Our first goal at ANY shoot is to of course find great lighting (and that should always be your goal too). But, some days the lighting just all around stinks, so we will then start looking for good locations that WOULD look good if the lighting were better. Trick #1, Find Cool Backgrounds and add flash Once we find an interesting location, then we use lighting to make it work. Good locations that I personally tend to gravitate towards with lighting are reflective backgrounds (like metal walls, which are great because when my flash hits it, it... Read More

4 Fast Steps to Easily Light your Backgrounds (video)

Are you ready to take your lighting to the NEXT level and light up the environment? Today we are going to show you EXACTLY how to do it with step by step instructions AND a video showing it in action! In order to turn the image you see below (natural light) into what you see above, you need to follow these steps in order to get great resutls with NO guess work!   Step 1.  Have the right gear & Location The gear we use to do shots like this are any type of main light (like the Rapid Box from Westcott), and then a speedlight with a tungsten gel over it to really make it interesting.    Natural Light Shot:(ambient light reading was ISO 100, f/4 at 1/100th shutter)   The locations that work best for these type of shots are ones that have even overall lighting (this was on a city street in Nashville with all indirect lighting), and ones that have a small area with a little less light.   This area had a metal doorway indent that had less light in it than the rest of the wall around it. It has LOW overall light (so the speedlight can over-power it) and the background was reflective which makes the light look interesting.   Step 2. Under-Expose the ambient by 2 stops (ambient light under-exposed by 2 stops)    In order to have the background look dynamic, you have to make sure that the ambient light doesn’t wash everything out. So, to do that, we need to under-expose the background by around 2 stops. We metered the ambient light to read ISO 100, 1/200th shutter at... Read More

3 Simple Steps to Lighting a late-evening Outdoor First Dance

If you have EVER been freaked out when your couple decides to have their first dance outdoors, RIGHT after the sun is GONE from view, then you are not alone! Today we are going to show you how to EASILY solve that lighting problem to get stunning images like this!     When Bret and Jillian did their first dance, the sun was close to being gone and there were NO lights on them at all. You could see them OK with your naked eye, but the lighting was getting really dull and VERY dark, so we needed to rock out some off-camera lighting to make it look great. Here are the 3 easy steps to take photos JUST like this! (Note: we shoot almost ALL of our flash images on MANUAL so everything is consistent, and so WE are in control of our lights and not the camera).   Step 1. Expose for the ambient light FIRST.   (The above image was taken with none of our off-camera lights firing and a little constant light from the video guy,and you can see just how dark and difficult the lighting we had to work with was. So, here is how we SIMPLY created the final image).    We started by getting a reading of the background’s ambient light with a faster shutter speed (1/160th of a second). Our background happened to have the sky in it, but yours may have trees only or a building or something else. We wanted that background light to be -1 stop under-exposed according to our in-camera meter. (We will explain why the shutter was faster in... Read More

3 essential tricks for stunning speedlight portraits

What if you could use the lighting gear that is probably already in your camera bag to shoot incredible lit shots of your couple’s that LOOK LIKE you used studio strobes? You can!     On Today’s Tuesday Tips and Tricks we will show you the 3 essential tricks for stunning speedlight portraits that look like you had large studio strobes on your shot!   1. Modifiers: When you use the RIGHT modifier for your speedlights, you can create stunning portraits with minimal amounts of gear. The MAIN light is the most important one because it will give the majority of the light to your subjects face and body. We have been using the Westcott Rapid box for speedlights because it does a few things REALLY well. It is EASY and Fast to set up (pops open like an umbrella). It is very light weight which is great for not adding sweat to your already long days shooting. The QUALITY of the light is outstanding! The reason the light is so good, is because the Rapid Box does a great job of spreading the light out evenly when it comes out the front of the box and therefore creates ultra soft, buttery light which looks great on anyone! The other two modifiers on this shot (which are not necessary to use, but fun to have in the shot), are two Westcott Rapid Box strip banks. 2. Control (Ambient Light Only) Control over your modifier and Speedlight POWER is critical to making the images work for your style. For the style of this shot, we wanted it to look more like we were... Read More

Artist Album Cover Shoot |Lainey Wright

We photographed new recording Artist Lainey Wright awhile back and are stoked to share not only the images with you, but some behind the scenes shots and set ups as well! Check out the shoot! We started off shooting in the amazing Westlight Studio in Franklin, TN which has some awesome set-ups and gear for any type of photo and even some video work! Check them out if you’re interested in a rental and tell them we sent you. Here is the set-up of this series of images. I loved the natural light coming through the windows, and after our direction meeting with the artist, we knew that she wanted a softer look to the shots. So, with that in mind, we intentionally slowed the shutter down to drag some of that natural light in and wrap around Lainey to give it that soft airy look. We also have a large, 39 inch Deep Octo light modifier from Elinchrom as our main light pictured to the left, and two 40 degree grid back lights for separation. We decided to do one contrasty lit shot on this background, even though I knew she wanted that soft look to the shots. She ended up picking one of these images, so we are glad we did it! We set up a 22 inch silver soft Beauty Light which gives a very directional light that is ultra soft when used in close. We then added a 40 degree grid to the background light and the kicker light pictured to camera right in the behind the scenes shot. We dropped the kicker light -1 stop lower... Read More

Lighting a Wedding Dress with Small Flashes

It is of course crucial that you shoot the bride wearing the dress so she looks absolutely amazing in it, but it is also important these days to get a great detail shot of the dress before the bride puts on the dress. We always strive to get a great shot of the dress because: 1. It is great for the bride to remember how that baby looked as it was “hanging on the rack” in a sense and… 2. It looks awesome as a detail spread in the wedding album. If you are currently not offering albums, as 50% of wedding photographers out there are not, then you could be missing out on providing a wonderful story for your bride. (If albums make you nuts with all the options and details and to-do’s, then check out the KISS Wedding Album Designer called SWAT which will simplify the process and change your life!). As Jody and I were shooting our most recent wedding, it was pouring rain and overcast, and the venue we were in did not have a ton of great natural lighting coming into it. So, we opted to hang up the dress in the best looking location that had some decent lighting to get a few shots. We hung it in this great doorway and composed it with the venue’s main staircase, but the problem was the only light source available was a big another glass doorway about 15 feet to camera right which was too far away to allow us to control it. Here is the natural light shot we got.   Not horrible, but... Read More

Promo Shoot Fashion Lighting

We had the awesome fun of shooting Stephen Knuth & Scarlett Lillian‘s promo material for their new blog site back in April, and now we wanted to take you through a few of the images and show you exactly how we did some of the more advanced off-camera lighting techniques that we used. You ready? Here we go! Today we are going to show you exactly how we pulled this shot off in Jacksonville, Florida while shooting this promo. We shot a lot of cool shots in a local restaurant that had a really cool vibe, then headed back toward the Knuth’s place for the last set-up. On the way, we spotted this really cool metal door behind an old abandoned building, so we headed over to check it out. This area was in the shade from the hot sun, and some light was bouncing off the sky and coming back into this open shaded area. I (Zach) knew that the in-direct sun that was coming into this area would act as a great fill-light (to fill in any shadows that we would create with the flashes), so we decided to shoot it. That is the exciting thing about flash photography, is even though the lighting here was nothing too killer, we could shape and create a look with our flashes and make it look really cool! Here is the set up. The natural light, as you can see in the above shot, was metered at F/5, ISO 50 at 1/100th of a second. So, in order to pull of the shot, all we really had to do was... Read More