Welcome to day 51 in 100 days of photography! We are officially in the second half and I am going to kick it off with ten days of lighting. I want to start by telling you about my first ever experience with a flash. I was going to be testing the event waters at a vow renewal. It was only three hours of shooting but half of that time would be after the sun went down, so I rented a flash and a 70-200. I was feeling amazing, walking around with a huge lens attached to my Canon Rebel and a flash mounted right on top. As I was walking through the church lobby, my flash fell off my camera. I was such a newbie with flash that I didn’t even mount it right. In a panic, I caught the flash mid fall and looked around, embarrassed and making sure no one saw.

Flash is a whole new world. When we get our cameras, we learn how to find and use beautiful natural light. We struggle until we find success shooting in manual, nailing our exposure every time. Then, the sun goes down and we’re forced to face the facts that flash is a necessity when it comes to wedding photography.

In an effort to make flash less scary to those just starting out, I want to share what someone once told me. I was depressed at the fact that sunset didn’t last six hours like I needed it to and my friend told me the following:

“You’re so comfortable shooting with available light. What if I told you that you could move the sun? What if I told you that you could add an extra sun? What if you could control the power of the sun? What if you could create your own clouds… the size and shape of them even?”

All of a sudden I was on cloud nine. You see, your flash is your sun, and your modifiers are your clouds. Flash gives you a huge amount of control when you’re not afraid to use it.

Before day two of this lighting series, I want to explain the inverse square law. This was a huge game changer for me and although I had heard it ten times before, it didn’t click until a lighting workshop I took. The funny thing is, it wasn’t even the teacher who was able to explain it to me, it was another student. When you’re shooting with flash and it’s not working, it’s important to be able to identify why it’s not working and how you can fix it. This is where the inverse square law is worth knowing.

The inverse square law says this:

The inverse square law describes the intensity of light at different distances from a light source. Every light source is different, but the intensity changes in the same way. The intensity of light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance.

Okay, that makes very little sense. Basically the inverse square law tells us that the closer the light source is to a subject, the more intense the light and the quicker the light falls off. As you move the light source away from the subject, the spread of light is more even across the subject. You can see this in action. Try holding a flashlight up to your face in a dark room. The closer you hold the flashlight to one side of your face, the faster the light falls off. You’ll see a harsh light on your cheek and then the light barely reaches your nose. BUT when you move the flashlight away from your face, the beam of light spreads more evenly over your face. You also do this with your cell phone when you’re looking for something in the dark. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you hold the phone high over your head to spread the beam of light over a greater distance. The light isn’t as intense because its farther away from the subject, but it spreads the light out over more space.

Check out the image below from Photography.tutsplus.com, you can see a bright intensity of light very quickly and then from 1/36-1/100 there isn’t much change in lighting intensity at all.

You can also see this in these two images of Jessica. The light was so incredibly close to her face on the left that it was just outside of my frame. It gave me just enough light for the outline of her face and then, because of the inverse square law, everything else was very dark. Then I moved my light away from her face and turned up the power and the light went farther and spread evenly over her face. This is the effect your lighting distance has on your images. If you’re trying to light an entire dance floor and the light you’re using is right up against your floor, there’s a good chance the people on the one side will be very brightly lit while the people on the far side will be dimly lit. To fix that, you simply move your light far away so that the entire dance floor is standing within that 1/36 – 1/100 range.

Still not there? Not to worry, we are going to take care of that right now.

Have you ever been standing near train tracks? You hear a train and you’re actually not sure which way it’s coming from. Actually… is it even coming or going? It’s hard to tell, the train is so far away and the sound is so even. As the train gets closer, the sound gets louder and louder and faster and faster until in a frightening moment it whips past your ear and for just a split second, it’s shockingly loud. The sound falls off super fast because it’s so close to you, so that punch of sound lasts only a second. As the train moves away, the sound starts becoming more even until it’s just a faint, steady hum. You’ve experienced the inverse square law with sound. Light does the same thing.

This helps when you’re trying to light an entire dance floor and you know the light source should be farther away if you’re trying to light everyone evenly. This also helps when you want to create a dramatic portrait and want a sharp gradient falling across a subjects face. Knowing the inverse square law is one of the first steps to being able to create your own light with flash.

Friends, that was day 51! I will see you tomorrow for day 52: Flash gear and modifiers.


Welcome to day FIFTY OR, day Half-Way-Through! Thank you so much for being here! Today I wanted to shine a spotlight on photographers who have influenced me, inspired me, and definitely added some beauty to my Instagram feed! I’m a huge believer in following many different genres of photography. I love that I can get inspiration from my Instagram feed from people who shoot completely different subjects in completely different ways. Maybe I think it somehow makes me more well rounded, to study not only wedding photographers. Maybe you feel the same. I know you will find a mountain of beauty and inspiration in each one of these photographers.



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#followmeto the magical cherry blossom time in Paris with @natalyosmann. Love this collaboration with the mega talented @hobopeeba. This is a small park next to Notre Dame, which is literally a cloud of pink trees and there are very few people around at sunrise. Good time for photos! Are you a sunrise or a sunset person :)? #cледуйзамной в Париж во время цветения сакуры. Наше совместное творчество с мега талантливой @hobopeeba. Этот маленький парк находится сбоку от собора Нотр-Дам и там очень мало туристов на рассвете – хорошее время для фото – приходите фотографировать!

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I try and imagine every individual I see as an innocent child. I see them grow in this world…their stories branching in different directions. I see them age and try to make sense of the experiences that occur around them. I see them hurt and look for hope. They reach out to others because they want to know they are not alone. Their vulnerability sometimes scars them causing them to hide from the light. There’s so much that goes into making us who we are and the way we perceive each other and the world. When I look at another individual, there is no possible way I could even begin to understand what they’ve experienced… but I can try. One of the most important things I’ve learned in this life is that the smallest amount of grace you can share with another human being can make the biggest difference. . Photo of @mksadler . #portrait #light #grace

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Right before Julia left to see Elijah for the first time that day, she read a sweet note from him on the front porch. Love this moment.

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Going back to Mexico is always soul lifting. There is nothing better that being surrounded by family and friends on a sunny day. Even though I haven’t lived there for the past 3 years, it feels like home every time I go back. 💕☀️ Definitely home is where the heart is ❤️ . . . . . . . . . . . . . #wanderlust #traveldeeper #mexico #valladolid #visitmexico #cntraveler #beautifuldestinations #feelfreefeed #passionpassport #livetravelchannel #lovetotravel #womenwhoexplore #lifewelltravelled #passionpassport #darlingescapes #forgeyourownpath #girlsborntotravel #girlwhotravel #livetravelchannel #lovetotravel #dametraveler #sheisnotlost #wearetravelgirls #pink #willtravelforpink

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In the mood for a Pink Tea Party today.

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Beautiful Sophie bravely wearing my shirt @sophiebarbaev

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In the fire of confrontation you always have a choice. Be wood, or be water. – The prevalence of mutual attack makes me wonder if anyone realizes that other options exist. It’s like we’ve become blind to the fact that meeting an insult with a “sick burn” means that a fellow human, with emotions as deep as our own, is getting burned. – How in the F did that become the cool thing to do? Shouldn’t the real win be turning darkness into light? – We’re all just floating on a pebble in space trying our best to find happy path through this weird forest of existence, so why is kindness to each other so damn quiet? Why are we taught to turn away from negativity? Is ignoring it really better than healing it? The more vocal kindness becomes, the more aware we might become to the strength of it. – If someone compliments you, respond with kindness. If someone insults you, respond with kindness. If someone insults someone you love, respond with kindness. If a stranger on facebook tells you your work sucks, respond with kindness. If someone flips you off in traffic, respond with kindness. The general rule here is “respond with kindness.” Please. – Negativity is a fire. Be water.

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I took this image 3 years ago. It’s still my favorite for so many reasons. . First, the skin tones and the “painting” like effect it has to it. . Second, the connection I have with my subject. I slowed down, it’s wasn’t rapid fire, it was one shot and it was perfection. . THIS is why I shoot film. I’m a better photographer because of it. . My mindset is different. I create art, I’m one with my clients, I capture the real them. It fuels my soul and I’m complete. . It’s the most important change I’ve ever made in my business…and I want to share this with you. . I’ve been hinting about this for months and it’s finally happening. . This will not be your average “follow these steps to become a film photographer. No, this is me teaching you what I do. From knowing what camera to buy, hacks on starting film without spending a fortune, walking you through how to load the darn thing. What the heck is rating? Metering, huh? What’s a light meter? How do see what I shot? Does Walgreens still develop? Do I need a darkroom? . GUYS! Stop! It’s not hard!!! You are making this way too complicated! . So, join me. Tonight at 8pm (Thursday,June 14) or tomorrow (June 15) at 10am (CST) and I’m just casually answering all your burning questions! If you want to shoot for personal reasons or incorporate into your business, I’m here to hold your hand friend. I got ya girl. . And I just had iced coffee for the first time ever and I’m dying to do a happy dance on this airplane RIGHT NOW because I’m so freakin excited to hang with you!!!!! . (Head over to my stories to get that link, I know you just want to click and you can experience my joy of discovering the magic juice that I’ve avoided for 47 years! 😂😂😂 . Who else loves iced coffee???!!! Emoji please!! Styling @jannabrowndesign | HAMU @chialimengartistry

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I’ll never get over the layers on this stunning custom made gold dress by @elizabethdye for @magnoliarouge 🌴

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This picture is called Brighter Days. I made it to portray my undying optimism – the way I see the world. While I find dark imagery most beautiful, in my everyday life I look for blue sky days. This image was chosen to represent a new campaign that I am thrilled to share with you. @Sonyalpha presents #SonyAlphaFemale, an initiative to support women in the photography business. Sony is giving away FIVE $25,000 grants + $5,000 worth of equipment to the people selected. 🌙 Link in bio! 🌙 I have been behind the scenes working with Sony executives to help bring this to life and I am honored to be on the panel of mentors for this program. I watched this initiative come from a place of honest to goodness desire to level the playing field (and sometimes from a place of frustration, empowerment, and sincerity that blows me away). 🌙 To me, this feels like an important moment in the photo world. I cried when I found out about these grants. Why? Because it is important to me that I work with a company not just for their product but for their heart. Because I want to see people succeed and inspire others. Because I want to be in a position to help change lives. 🌙 You don’t need to be a top photographer, don’t need to have created your very best work, don’t need to “know the right people” or ingratiate yourself to anyone. This is about selecting people who have the potential to soar, and helping that potential along financially, through mentorship, and education. 🌙 When I was brought on for this project I asked that the fine art market be represented, and they listened. So here I am, proud as pudding to be here and sharing this with you. I might even say it is one of the defining moments of my career to be a part of this. 🌙 (Because I feel I should say this – I was not told I had to share about this, wasn’t pressured into saying anything at all. I’m here telling you about this because I believe in it. That is my reason for sharing anything that I share.)

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One filter edit by @splendid_rags using Amélie from our #FlashesofDelight +pack with @glitterguide ❤ #glitterguidexacolorstory

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Favorite city. #paris #film #fuji400h #eiffeltower

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Home is where you hang your heart 💙 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The first thing I was told upon arriving to my first Burn back in 2013 was “Welcome Home.” An older man in nothing but a tutu immediately ran up, gave me a huge hug like we were long lost friends, and then told me to roll around in the dust. I won’t lie, the experience was completely jarring. I immediately thought, “What the hell did I just sign up for?!” I always thought I was an open minded person, but was this going to be totally beyond what I could handle? That week was one of the most uncomfortable, awe-inspiring, emotional, carefree, and life-changing experiences in my life. 5 Burns later, I’m proud to say that not much has changed. It still takes me at least 24 hours to shake the real world off, to stop thinking the word “weird” and to, if I’m being completely honest, stop judging. We all judge others based on what’s beautiful, what’s acceptable, what’s “normal,” and what’s cool, when those beliefs might not even be what we really feel. It’s just what we’ve been conditioned to think. If there’s any takeaway from #BurningMan that I try to carry with me, it’s that we’re all weird. There is no normal. Life is weird. Love is weird. The internet is REALLY weird. So why not be silly? Why live in fear of being uncool? Wear the tutu, roll in the dust, cry when things are sad and dance when everyone’s watching. You only have one life. How do you wanna spend it? •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #burningman2018

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Like a dream 💫

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You, reading this, you’re likely very creative. Am I right? Your heart is in your craft and you have a very real and deep passion to create beautiful art for your clients. When you turn this part of your brain on, ideas probably come to you all the time. In dreams, over breakfast, when you’re driving to your next shoot… you have ideas for new images, marketing strategies, and even new businesses! Trust me, I’m the same way. I have a notebook full of ideas that I believe are actually great! They’re valuable, they’re possible, but they’re also completely worthless. Why? Because I haven’t done anything with them.

The biggest mistake you can make when you have an idea is to not take any action.

We do this for a number of reasons. The first one is, we feel like it needs to be perfect before we put it out to the world. This results in us working behind the scenes SO LONG that we have another idea that grabs our attention and we leave the first one in the dust while we work on the new idea… obviously this is a crazy circle that results in a lot of half finished ideas. We spend our time and effort on something that never sees the light of day because we didn’t finish or follow through.

The next reason is that we are afraid of how people might judge us. As artists, what we put out is very personal. So, rejection feels personal. Rejection doesn’t have to be hate mail and downvotes, it can also be that no one cares. Have you ever worked so hard to put out a YouTube video only to find that your mom was the only one that watched it? The only thing worse than haters commenting on your stuff is when haters don’t even care enough to comment.

So how do you avoid this cycle or get over this fear? As far as fear goes… think back to the last time you judged someone on something they put out. Are you still thinking? You probably never have. I haven’t either. When I’m online, I’m looking for useful things for me, not things that aren’t relevant to me so that I can hate on it… that’s just a waste of time. The people who are seeing your stuff will either relate to it or they won’t. If they don’t, that’s fine, you’re here for the people who do.

As far as that vicious cycle I mentioned above, the first thing you need to do is sit down and evaluate what this idea really entails. The effort, cost, and what the purpose is. It’s not possible to run with every idea you have, so first you need to figure out if it’s worth it. Is this just a smaller personal project that won’t take up too much time and effort or is this something huge like starting a new business? Once you decide that it is something you want to do, you have to set a course of action and follow through before (KEY WORD BEFORE!) you move on to anything else. My friend always says “Plan the work then work the plan.” If you have a new idea before this one is complete, write it down and then come back to it. It’s like when I clean my house. If I wander around cleaning here and there, I can spend three hours and nothing will have been done. Instead I go room by room. I force myself not to get distracted by a stray pile of laundry in another room and tell myself “I’ll get to it once the bathroom is clean.” By the end of two hours, my house is spotless and I don’t have that awful feeling of “I just spent three hours working with nothing to show for it.”

Use your time wisely and set your focus to level ten. You’re going to do amazing things.

Thank you for being here for day 49! Tomorrow marks the HALF WAY POINT! I can hardly believe it! This series of 100 in 100 is an idea that I had and am following through. It took a really long time to curate the list, research, organize and write. I also had a lot of distracting ideas along the way, but those are on hold until I deliver these posts to you! Let me know your thoughts in the comments and I’ll see you tomorrow for day 50: 25 amazing photographers to follow in Instagram.

Day 98 is currently reserved for any questions you have throughout the next 100 days. To submit a question, please click here!  If you’re interested in supporting this project, please share, PIN and comment! Any other questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at denise(at)denisekaris(dot)com

Denise Karis is a film & digital hybrid wedding photographer based in Phoenix who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris