I used to use flash triggers for all of my off camera flash photography however a few months back I realized that using flash triggers for “run and gun” style event photography isn’t the best option.
I work alone at events so I am responsible for positioning the flash as well as pressing the shutter button. This doesn’t create any problems when the flash is on the camera’s hotshoe, but I prefer to use off-camera flash since I seem to get consistently better results. Having to position/hold the flash and press the shutter button during events makes everything a little more awkward, but perfectly doable.
I used to use flash triggers for event photography and, because of the speed lights I use, this requires a flash trigger on camera (to act as the transmitter) and one on the speed light’s hot shoe foot (to act as the receiver). Flash triggers add overall weight and bulk, and having a flash trigger attached to the bottom of the speed light makes it uncomfortable and awkward to hold.
Not having a proper grip on the speed light can lead to dropping the speed light should someone knock in to you when you’re concentrating on taking the photo as opposed to what’s going on around you, as I found out. During a recent event photography session I was hand holding my speed light and composing the shot when some numpty bumped in to me as he barged his way through the crowd, resulting in a trashed speed light and flash trigger. To say I wasn’t happy is an understatement, but I guess these instances are all part and parcel of event photography. It did get me thinking though, and I reached the conclusion that when working alone photographing events I needed to have the speed light tethered to me at all times.
The best way to use the speed light of camera and keep it tethered to me (or at least to the camera which I am holding) is to use an off camera flash cord. Using the off camera flash cord means I don’t have to use the flash trigger on either the camera or the speed light, and whilst the off camera flash cord does add some weight and bulk it doesn’t add as much as two flash triggers. The end of the off camera flash cord is smaller and neater than the flash trigger sticking out of the bottom of the speed light and this makes it more comfortable, not to mention easier, to hold securely.
The main disadvantage with the off camera flash cord is obviously the wire, and whilst many photographers say that being tethered in this way is awkward and cumbersome, I don’t find this to be the case. Sure, I can tell there is a wire there and there are times when I have to make small adjustments to get the speed light in the position I want but it isn’t that much of a faff.
With the speed light securely tethered to the camera I know that if it slips out of my hand (which is highly unlikely) or is knocked out of my hand (which is likely at crowded events) it will not hit the floor and break.
Using an off camera flash cord doesn’t require batteries, it is one hundred per cent reliable and doesn’t require in a radio signal (which could easily fail) and is also cheap. In my experience the off camera flash cord is the best way to take the flash off camera for even photography, and I wouldn’t be without mine.
Flash photography video playlist that may be of interest
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.