Fashion Photography Outdoors using Off Camera Flash

Watch this photography tutorial video to learn how to mix daylight with flash when photographing fashion or portraits outdoors.

Fashion photography is one of the most exciting fields. Every photographer I know has tried to go that direction at some point of their career. Fashion changes every season and so does the style of fashion photography, so it always has room for creativity and innovation.

Earlier we discussed set ups to photograph a model in the studio, today Nick Carter will demonstrate (in the video above) how to photograph a model outdoors.

Fashion photography outdoors can produce very rewarding images, the majestic appearance of the landscape complements the beauty of the model.

Photo by Nick Carter. Model: Ruth Rojas

Using Off-Camera Flash:

When shooting a model outdoor especially at a remote location, taking as little equipment as possible, will make your job easier. Using an off-camera shoe mount flash as your lighting is the ultimate light-weight solution.

Position the flash on a stand as close to the subject as possible to avoid seeing the unit itself standing in your shot. To secure the shoe mount flash onto the stand you will need a clamp with a shoe mount adapter.

Photo by Nick Carter

Camera Setting:

Set the exposure for natural light. Make sure the landscape (backdrop) is properly exposed. Make sure the model is not over-exposed, underexposing is ok, the flash will add the needed light. Also please note that most flash units have a maximum sync speed of 250/sec. So you shutter speed might have to be 250 or below.

Set the flash power:
- Option one: set your flash to manual mode and adjust flash power to desired lighting.
- Option two: If your hot shoe adapter slave allows flash to work in TTL: Set flash to auto, and use exposure compensation on flash +- 1/3, -2/3, -1 etc… to get desired lighting

Syncing camera and flash:

Shoe mount flash was designed to work connected to the camera. So be prepared that going against nature might pose a bit of a challenge:

To Sync your camera with shoe mount flash off-camera you will need a long sync cord or a radio slave (wireless).


1. Use a radio slave (transmitter on camera, receiver on flash unit)
2. Use a hot shoe adapter (with PC Sync Socket) to connect the radio slave to the flash
3. Use a short cord (usually comes with radio) to connect the slave to the flash unit (PC male to miniphone)
4. Alternatively to radio slaves you can use a long sync cord. (you will still need hot shoe adapter with a jack). If your camera does not have PC jack you will need a hot shoe to pc adapter for the camera as well (hot show male to PC female)

This site has a comprehensive list of slaves and adapters available and explains what each one does. Just make sure the adapters will work with your type of camera / flash.

This lighting technique can be used with any type of an outdoor portrait.




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