Go into your phone’s camera settings right now and turn off Auto Flash. Why? A phone’s flash, or any device’s flash for that matter, typically adds harsh lighting to a photograph. But, wait. Before you do that. Go ahead and take a few test photos to see the difference.
Test Shot #1: Take one photo using the device’s flash.
Test Shot #2: Turn off Auto Flash and take another photo using just natural light.
The image with the flash might be a bit on the harsh side (blown out/bright areas, dark shadows, etc.). The image using natural light will be a bit on the softer/airy side. When comparing flash light to natural light, the natural light option almost always ends up being the most flattering of the two.
A photographic image is created by capturing light reflected from the various parts of a scene. Simply put, light is one of the most important factors in any photo. And I seriously love natural light. In fact, during family photo sessions, it’s the only light I use in my photography.
When it comes to both my phone and my DSLR, I actually don’t remember the last time I used a flash. I’m constantly on the lookout for natural light. And, if I’m taking an everyday photo of my kiddos, I keep the flash off and try to capture them in the best lighting situation possible. If you can, position your subjects so they’re well-lit from the front (find ideal light sources like a window) and not silhouetted by a strong light from behind.
Of course, this isn’t always possible for quick shots, but do what you can. If the photo I take ends up looking a bit on the darker side due to very little natural light, all it takes is two seconds of editing in my Lightroom App to get a light and airy photo that I will cherish forever.
Now, some of you might be saying, “I have a new phone with an awesome camera.” That’s great! Use the camera, but turn off Auto Flash. While newer phones have color-balanced flashes that do a somewhat decent job, using existing/natural light is a better option. I leave my flash off by default. If you leave your device on Auto Flash, it’s only a matter of time until the flash goes off when you don’t want it to and you’ll end up with a harshly lit photograph.
Do a few test shots and see for yourself. Natural light will most likely win every time.