We all make mistakes in photography. All of us. But these are things that help us learn and grow as photographers. We make mistakes, we figure out what went wrong, we correct it, and then don’t make that mistake again. Thanks to the modern Internet, though, we can learn from the mistakes of others, too.
In this video, portrait and wedding photographer, Jiggie Alejandrino talks about some of the most common mistakes in using off-camera flash and how to determine the proper placement for your light sources. Armed with a Sony a7R IV with a Sony Ziess 50mm f/1.4 remotely triggering a Profoto B2 with an installed Magmod Magbox modifier, this video was shot on-location at an actual wedding.
Placement of Catchlights
The first one is nice and simple to avoid once you know what you’re looking for, and thankfully, it’s super easy to know when you’ve done it not. It is, of course, catchlights in the subject’s eyes. Catchlights are the spectral highlights in eyes created by the direct reflection of the key light.
The reason this looks so bad is because we’re used to seeing one another when we’re lit from above. We go outside and the sun is lighting us from above; when we’re indoors the lights are lighting us from above. In fact, this is so present in our visual recognition of the world that lighting from anywhere other than above simply tells our brains that something is wrong.
Again, this is a mistake that is quite subtle and sometimes tricky to avoid, but it always worth being aware of it. A basic rule of lighting for me is that you always want to create “clean lighting
Poor Hair Light Placement
The placement of hair lights is another example of how something looks fine until you’re shown how it could look better. Firstly, you have to know why you’re using hair lights, to begin with—are you simply adding them to add a little shine to the hair, are you trying to accentuate shape in the hair, or are you just trying to create a strong separation between your subject and background? All of these are valid reasons, and with a little care and attention, your hair light placement can achieve all of these goals.