The Ultimate Guide How to Shoot Flash Street Photography

Case study: Jazz Hands, Hollywood, 2011

Jazz Hands. Hollywood, 2011 by ERIC KIM

This is a flash street photograph I shot, and let me explain it to you.

  1. I saw interesting lady with a hat.
  2. I crouched down, about to take a picture of her.
  3. Lady sees me crouching down and about to take a picture, and therefore poses for me (jazz hands gesture).
  4. I take a picture with flash.
  5. We both walk away.
Eric Kim shooting Jazz hands. Action photo.

People misinterpret this picture: they think the lady is shocked that I’m taking her picture. In reality, she’s posing for me with the jazz hands gesture — she saw I was going to take a picture of her (and because she knows that she is so glamorous), she gives me a gift by posing for me. And because she posed for me, the picture is much more dynamic and interesting.

Flash setup: I used a Canon 5D, Canon 24mm f2.8 lens, off-camera flash cable, and YuongNuo YN flash, with the flash positioned at a low angle, pointing up. The benefit of using a flash in this situation was that the lady was walking toward me (the sun was behind her), therefore if I did not use a flash, her face would be all black, dark, and silhouetted. By using a flash, I lit up her face, and hands. And you can see the little sunburst of light behind her head, from the sun.

Case study: Long distance flash

Shot in a restaurant with flash in Michigan, Lansing.

Shot with a film LEICA MP, 35mm, Leica SF 20, Kodak Portra 400.

  • Aperture: f8
  • Flash power: full power
  • Focus distance: 3 meters

I shot this picture in a dark restaurant in Lansing, Michigan. I saw this bored couple, and thought it would be great for my ‘SUITS’ project. I turned the flash on full power, and just took one picture.

After taking the picture, I scared them and freaked them out because the flash was so bright. They stared at me, and I said, “Cool restaurant, huh?” (Pretending like I was just shooting the background). They both then smiled and said, “Yeah!”

Lesson: If you do shock people from shooting a street photograph with flash, just pretend like you shot something else.

Leica MP and 35mm f/2 Summicron + SF 20 flash
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