Exercise 2.8 – Fill Flash

This exercise is about understanding when and how to use fill flash, and understanding how to manipulate lighting in doing so. The brief says “You can see many examples of fill-flash in Martin Parr’s photographs at http://www.martinparr.com”

How do you spot when a photographer has used fill flash? To be honest I think this is something that will come with time, and I do not feel very competent with this at the moment. I have given it a go, but I feel that the most important thing right now for me is to practice. I have spent a couple of days reading about and practicing using the flash on my camera, and I now need to get outside and find some people to practice with.

Here are three attempts at seeing how Parr has used fill flash.

PAM2017001G02288Fig.1. Gift shop in the Museum of the Revolution (2017)

1 – The mans upper arm is slightly shiny, although there is a shadow upon his shirt below the arm, there is no shadow falling on the table at all. This suggest the whole scene is has diffused lighting, and the shadow has been cast by the flash.

2 – It appears as though there is a narrow light source, the flash, reflected in the mans glasses.

3 – Good natural day light from the rear. This does not mean that there is not another light source, but what ever other source there is is not creating shadows.

PAM2017008G00840 Fig.2. Moschino. Milan Fashion Week. Italy (2017)

1 – Reflection from the flash.

2 – Light drop off, suggesting that the room was dark, and the aperture was small.

PAM2014012G12595 Fig.3. Lincoln College Ball (2016)

1 – The strong purple light suggests that the ball is dimly lit.

2 – The faces of the couple have good lighting and skin tone, with some reflection on the womans arm.

3 – The shadow shows that the mans arm is lit from the flash on the camera.


Figure 1; Parr, M; 2017; Gift shop in the Museum of the Revolution; At: https://www.martinparr.com/recent-work/ (accessed on 22/11/2017)

Figure 2; Parr, M; 2017; Moschino. Milan Fashion Week. Italy; At: https://www.magnumphotos.com/arts-culture/fashion/martin-parr-people-watching-in-milan/ (accessed on 22/11/2017)

Figure 3; Parr, M; Lincoln College Ball; At: https://www.martinparr.com/recent-work/ (accessed on 22/11/2017)

6 Replies to “Exercise 2.8 – Fill Flash”

  1. Very good analysis Richard. I too am not a fan of Martin Parr, but I find it difficult to say why. The best I can come up with and at the risk of sounding like a complete heathen, I think his stuff is pretty boring.

    Good luck with the practice. My first attempts were awful but did improve after a few goes. One of my work colleagues asked me to take some portraits of him for a pass card so I used the technique, and I thought the outcome was pretty good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely get that some of his more well known photography is social commentary, and I can see the relevence of social documentary. But I see a lot of his photography as being a mess. A monkey walking the streets with a camera could take photos of the same quality. I also understand that photography doesn’t need to be beautiful, showing something how it is rather than a cleaned up version has its benefits, but for that it does have to be interesting, capture attention; and he doesn’t.

      Glad you got the chance to practice with your friend. Your last series of Clare, particularly of her leaning into the tree was effective.

      Liked by 1 person

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