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Light Up Every Family Moment

Pilar Bonnin’s Guide to Flash Photography 

From graduations and weddings, to pregnancies and starting a family, there are some special milestones in life that should not be forgotten. Here are my tips on how to capture every memory in the best light possible, and some easy-to-follow setups with the F60RM.

  

Maternity and Newborn

It is a special time for everyone in the family, filled with anticipation, change, and excitement. What better way to preserve those memories than with a maternity and newborn photoshoot. 

In this three-flash set, place the mother in a profile position so that you can see her bump. 

●  Place the main octabox high, at 90 degrees to the camera’s left. Aim it downwards at the model’s face to light her face and draw attention to her expression.
●  Set up a strip light one stop higher than your main light and use it to light her hair.
●  Set up a third strip light as a kicker. Place it on the camera’s right, behind the model, aiming towards her back and hair. This will help create separation from the black background, her hair, and her dress.

For this second image, keep your first model in the same pose and have the father stand behind her, but facing the camera. 

●  Place the main octabox high, at 90 degrees to the camera’s left. Aim it downwards at the models’ faces. 
●  Set up a strip light one stop higher than your main light and use it to light her hair.  
●  Set up a third strip light as a kicker. Place it on the camera’s right, behind the model, aiming towards their back and hair. This will help create separation from the black background, her hair, and her dress.  

Add a touch of drama by dressing your model in a bold-colored fabric. To get the fabric to hang just right, you will need an extra hand to throw the fabric into the air to create a beautiful flow in the fabric. 

●  Place the main octabox high, 90 degrees to the camera’s left. Aim it downwards at the model’s face. 
●  Set up a strip light one stop higher than your main light and use it to light her hair. 
●  Place a shoot-through umbrella on the camera’s right and in front of the subject to fill in the shadows. 

A two-flash setup highlights the tender moments between mother and baby. 

●  Place the main octabox high, 90 degrees to the camera’s left and aim it downwards at the model’s face. 
●  Aim the second light at the baby to light up its face, and fill in the shadows on the mother’s face.

Creating a dreamy look doesn’t always need a multiple-flash setup, sometimes you just need one.

●  Place the main octabox high, 90 degrees to the camera’s left, and aim it downwards at the model and baby’s faces. 
●  Turn the baby’s face towards the light.  

To draw attention to the baby and capture its naturally sweet look, photograph the baby alone against a simple background.  

●  Place the main octabox lower to the camera’s left, and aim it at a low angle to light up the baby’s left side. 
●  Place one fill light through an umbrella. Set it one stop lower than the main light to fill the shadows.  

Motion

If you know a child that loves to dance, it’s the perfect chance to try shooting some captivating moves in motion. 

For this three-flash setup, I used colored gels to create a different mood and add a touch of creativity. 

●  Place the main beauty dish high to the camera’s right, and aim it downwards at the model’s face. 
●  Set up two flashes on the left and right, behind the model. Aim them towards the model’s back, arms, and hair to create highlights and separation from the background. Use colored gels to create different effects.  

Try freezing motion using just one flash, ambient light, and a white wall or panel as a fill-in. This will allow you to light the model while having some highlight on some of her curves. 

●  Place the main octabox to the camera’s left. Position it behind the model, aim it slightly towards the camera, and allow the light to feather across the model.  
●  Set up a large white panel to the camera’s right to act as the fill-in.  

To capture your model in motion, have some fun with this two-flash, rear-sync flash setup. By shooting on a slow shutter speed and having the flash go off at the end, you can capture beautiful motion trails and a sharp subject.

●  Place the main beauty dish high to the camera’s right and aim it downwards at the model’s face.  
●  Place a strip light behind the model as a kicker light.  

*Ambient light is from a video light on the camera’s left.

Family

There’s nothing more important than family, so make sure that you capture every moment in the right light. 

In this four-flash setup, orange gels help add warmth, and even simulate the setting sun—without having to race time to get the perfect shot. 

●  Place the main octabox on the camera’s left, facing the models, and aim downwards at their faces. 
●  Fit the second light with orange gel. Place it on the camera’s right, behind rocks, and aim upwards.
●  Fit the third and fourth lights with orange gel. Place them on the camera’s left, behind plants, and aim upwards. 

At parties, you may not have the chance to have multiple flashes or even set up your shots. However, with just one flash and impromptu moments, you can still capture the scene you want.

●  Set up the flash on your camera and aim it at the ceiling to bounce the light. 

 

Graduation

Graduation day is a big day for students, they’ve finally finished school, they’re moving into the workforce, and maybe even leaving friends behind. It’s the first step to adulthood and a really important moment to remember.

In this two-flash setup, the subject should be seated facing the camera, but at a slight angle. 

●  Place the main octabox to the camera’s left. Position it behind the model, aim it slightly towards the camera, and allow the light to feather across the model.  
●  Set up the fill-in with a shoot-through umbrella set one stop weaker than the main light. 

For a family portrait, you may want to explore a three-flash setup instead to make sure that you light every model on set evenly. 

●  Place the main octabox high, at 90 degrees to the camera’s left, and aim downwards towards the camera and the models’ faces. 
●  Set up a strip light high above their heads as a hairlight. Set it one stop stronger than the main light. Do not light their faces. 
●  Set up the fill-in with a shoot-through umbrella right next to the camera. Set it one stop weaker than the main light.  

In an outdoor setting with a larger group, a three-flash setup could be the solution to creating depth—by allowing you to control the amount of light between the model and background. 

●  Place the main large shoot-through umbrella on the camera’s right. Set it one stop stronger than the ambient light. 
●  Set up two flashes with yellow gels behind the crowd to light up the plants and trees and create warmth, even on grey, cloudy days. 

Love and Wedding

Nothing lights people up quite like love. Here’s how you can help a couple’s love shine through.

In this two-flash setup, by using yellow gels, you can cast a soft, warm light around the couple to create a romantic glow. 

●  Set up two flashes on tripods with yellow gels behind the couple. 

In this three-flash setup, you can switch the yellow gels for orange ones to create an even warmer, sunset-inspired light. 

●  Place the main light and a shoot-through umbrella high on the camera’s right, at a lower angle, to light up the models’ face. Set it one stop stronger than ambient light. Position it on the camera's right and aim at the female model.  
●  Fit the second and third lights with an orange gel behind the couple, on their right. This lights up the female model’s hair and simulates warm afternoon highlights. 

If you are shooting indoors near a glass panel, you can use a two-flash setup to bounce light back onto your models’ faces for a soft, naturally lit look. 

●  Aim both flashes at the glass panel to bounce the light back at models.

In this one-flash setup, try using a combination of ambient light, flash, and string lights to bring out a whimsical touch, while still having the couples well lit. 

●  Place the main octabox on the camera’s left and aim downwards at models. 
●  Use string lights to create lit-up globes, and the STF100 2.8GM lens for a dreamy atmosphere. 

If you’re outdoors, this five-flash setup will add a charming, warm touch to any wedding portrait. 

●  Place the main octabox on the camera’s left, and aim downwards at your models to light their faces. 
●  Place a second flash directly behind the models to light up the female model’s hair and highlight the raindrops. 
●  Fit three flashes with an orange gel behind the couple in the plants, and aim upwards. This gives the image more depth and dimension, and creates beautiful, warm highlights on a dull background. 

This easy one-flash setup is simple to place and helps add just that right amount of light for a lovely indoor moment. 

●  Place the main light with a large shoot-through umbrella above and slightly behind the male model. Set it one stop stronger than ambient lighting. The light should skim and wrap around the female model.
●  Place a second flash directly behind the models to light up the female model’s hair and highlight the raindrops. 
●  Make sure that your wraparound light follows the angle of the flow of light from the window to the camera’s right to achieve a natural effect. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Sony Singapore.

Pilar’s gear
ILCE-7RM3
Alpha 7R III

ILCE-7RM3

SEL85F14GM
FE 85 mm F1.4 GM

SEL85F14GM

SEL2470GM
FE 24-70 mm F2.8 GM

SEL2470GM

SEL100F28GM

FE 100 mm F2.8 STF GM OSS

SEL100F28GM

HVL-F60RM
High-speed flash

HVL-F60RM

HVL-F45RM
External Flash with Wireless Radio Control

HVL-F45RM