Handheld StrobeWhen we think of glamorous portraits, perhaps the last thing we think of is a handheld strobe. The flat, frontal light from an on-camera flash flattens subjects and can create a harsh glare—like being splashed with a bucket of light. When making a high-key portrait, however, a bit of bright frontal light can work effectively. That's why the on-camera flash look has become increasingly popular in fashion photography in recent years.
For Alyssa, I wanted to take the frontal edge off the flash, so rather than affixing it to my hot-shoe, I mounted it to a stand just a foot or so to the side of my lens. (I also could have simply held the flash in my hand, but I wanted to keep both hands free for stability and focusing.) Playing up the snapshot glare of the technique, we found that a significant overexposure (almost a stop-and-a-half) counterbalanced the bold shadows and delivered a flattering high-key light that nods to classic Hollywood.