How to Shoot a Flash Portrait at Night

Dear friend,

I made a new GoPro POV portrait YouTube video session of Cindy to teach you how I make portraits at night. If you’re with a friend, loved one, or your partner, shoot portraits of night of them with a flash.


Contact Sheet

Basic tips:

  1. Keep ‘working the scene’ from different angles, from different distances, and vary your orientations (horizontal orientation/vertical orientation of your camera).
  2. Use the simplest flash setup: I just used the pop-up integrated flash on Ricoh GR II, in “P” program mode.
  3. Realize that shooting with a flash at night with colorful backgrounds will even further intensify the saturation of the colors. For example, note when I photographed Cindy at the end with the red curtain, just how red the curtain looks!
  4. I recommend shooting with JPEG with a flash, and further boosting colors and saturations afterwards in Lightroom (you can use my free ERIC KIM PRESETS // the Kyoto ones).
  5. Interact with your subject: Talk with them, count to three when you’re shooting (if your camera’s flash is re-charging), and tell them what you like about the scene. Treat the shooting session like a dance– Cindy suggested a lot of poses, and she is also aware of what she looks like on the other side of the lens. So treat the photo-portrait session like a two-way street (integrate the suggestions of your model, and you also integrate your own ideas).
  6. Keep shooting when you think you’ve got the shot: This means, shoot 25% more photos than you think you should. Often when I think I got a good photo, I haven’t. When I push myself to shoot 25% more photos, I end up usually getting a good shot. For example if you see my contact sheet, my favorite photograph isn’t until the second-to-last photo.

Photos I like:

Shoot better portraits

Cindy behind a red curtain, “about to” come into contact with you.
Cindy behind red curtain. Kyoto, 2017
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