Remember this ad from 12 years ago? This is why you don’t use on-camera flash for sports photography

Tips & Techniques

Are you sitting comfortably? Great! Now, think back 12 years ago. Yes, that would be pre-multiple political upheavals, pre-pandemic and pre-full frame mirrorless cameras. It was a much simpler time, we were all so innocent then…but I digress.

Take a look at this Buffalo Wings commercial from 2010 that hilariously pokes fun at sports photographers using on-camera flash. The results of which, have a disasterous effect on the athletes.

I personally hadn’t seen this advertisement when it was new, but I have to say it’s pretty spot on. Indoor events generally request no flash photography, and especially if matches are televised it’s a big no-no. These days with modern cameras and fast lenses the need for a flash is pretty minimal. Newer mirrorless cameras like the Canon R3 can freeze action and rapid fire shots at incredibly fast speeds. You’re not going to miss the shot.

Unlike the poor athletes who may be completely distracted by something such as a rogue flash going off in their line of sight. It’s a similar problem with concert photography. In my performing days I even had video crews asking to be on stage with the musicians, sticking their cameras almost into their faces. My response is always this: the music or sport, the musicians or athletes, and the paying audience come first with shooting these kinds of events. Find a way to capture what you need, without detracting from the enjoyment and execution of the performance itself. You are not the star of the show.

We probably don’t need to be telling you, but if you’re thinking of using flash in a live situation, please just don’t!

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