Newly wed bride and groom being showered in floral confetti at their wedding reception in London

Remember Pokémon Go? How about Fidget spinners? Fashions and trends come and well… eventually go. It’s the same in photography and one technique that’s been making waves recently is the use of hard flash. This is when the flash has nothing to soften it to make it more flattering. It’s basically a bare bulb. Imagine the paparazzi catching a celebrity leaving a restaurant at night. Snap! That's hard flash. 

Popular in the world of fashion photography, hard flash has found its way into various niches, including corporate events and weddings. As a London documentary wedding photographer, I do enjoy using it in my studio work; for weddings, not so much. I generally prefer a more natural, timeless look. 

In the studio, hard flash is a tool for crafting bold and high-contrast images. The sharp shadows and defined highlights add an edgy and contemporary look, particularly with fashion photography. While I appreciate the dramatic impact it brings to certain studio setups, my approach is versatile, and I choose the technique based on the specific narrative I want to convey.

Woman wearing a black jacket, sunglasses, scarf, and shirt against a slate backdrop with hard studio lighting

For corporate events and weddings, where I specialise as a documentary photographer, the use of hard flash introduces an element of dynamism to the visual storytelling. However, my philosophy in wedding photography leans towards capturing moments authentically, allowing the emotions and interactions to unfold naturally. While I do integrate hard flash selectively, my primary aim is to create a narrative that reflects the genuine essence of the day. One place it does work well is on the dance floor. Using a flash with a slow shutter speed allows me to freeze the action on the floor whilst keeping the movement from the lights in the background. It’s a pretty cook effect and (bonus) it’s still authentic storytelling.  

The trend towards hard flash in weddings is undoubtedly present, with couples looking for cool, unconventional visuals. But it is a trend and I worry that when couples look back on their wedding photos and see lots of hard flash they’ll wonder what on earth they were thinking. 

Two women smiling and laughing in front of a wedding cake at a reception in Lodnon
Woman in a black shirt posing against a slate backdrop with hard studio flash
Woman in a black jumper posing against a white backdrop with hard studio flash and shadows
Man in a yellow shirt posing against a slate backdrop with hard studio flash
Woman in a green jumper posing against a slate backdrop with hard studio flash
Woman with black sunglasses in a light brown fleece  against a black backdrop with hard studio flash
Bride dancing at her wedding reception while being fanned by a guest

Using hard flash for wedding photography

So, incorporating hard flash in wedding photography requires a delicate balance. I use it sparingly, strategically selecting moments where the technique enhances the storytelling without overshadowing the authenticity of the moment. The direct and intense light source becomes a tool for highlighting key moments, providing a touch of drama while preserving the genuine atmosphere of the occasion. To be honest, I usually use it when I simply need some direct light quickly and easily. 

I approach weddings with a commitment to preserving the authenticity of each fleeting moment. The result is a wedding album that tells a genuine and unfiltered story, capturing the beauty of love in its purest form.

The use of hard flash offers a versatile approach for photographers, whether in the studio or capturing events like weddings. While it adds a unique aesthetic to certain scenarios, my personal inclination in wedding photography is towards authenticity, with hard flash used sparingly, if at all, to complement the narrative rather than dominate it.

Wedding Photographer Gary Williams


If you're looking for more than just posed photographs, if you want your wedding day to be documented authentically, capturing real emotions and heartfelt connections – then you've found your documentary wedding photographer. Get in touch and let's create memories together. If you want to know more about me, click here.