By Jim Zuckerman
A wedding photographer friend of mine suggested to me yesterday that I travel with two strobes instead of one. He very successfully uses two flash units when he shoots weddings, and his entire orientation to photography is dealing with high stress, fast moving situations in dark interiors. A second flash adds dimensionality and life to a shot in these kinds of situations.
My answer to him was that most of my travel work is done with available light. I prefer the natural look that ambient light gives, as long as I can choose the type of lighting. I try to avoid direct sunlight during the middle of the day, for example. In most instances, it’s the kiss of death for good photography. Shade is so much more attractive for outdoor portraits because it retains the subtle light and dark relationships on the face. Flash, even fill flash, tends to eliminate or reduce those subtleties.
The photo below is one of my favorite portraits from tribal India (in the state of Orissa), and it was taken in deep shade under an overhang in a small village. I used a tripod because the light was low, and my young model didn’t move a muscle as I focused and took the picture. I purposely chose as the background a muted wall so all the attention would rest solely on the face of this beautiful child.
I feel that a flash in this instance, with it’s flat lighting and artificial catchlights in the eyes, would have ruined the lovely moody quality of this.