Creatively capturing fast-paced motion is never easy, especially when the final output is a still image. Josh Katz's method is to use Canon Speedlites combined with ingenious flash techniques. He estimates that more than 80% of his photos of the skateboarding subculture have been made using two off-camera Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RTs, and subsequently two Canon Speedlite EL-1s.
"I take skateboarding way too seriously!" says Josh. "I shattered my collarbone a few months ago – I completely deserved it because I was trying to jump down an 11-stair handrail."
Recovery from a serious facial injury sustained during skateboarding was, in fact, the backdrop to Josh first turning his attention to photography. "Every skateboarder is a creative and when I knew I wouldn't be skating for a few months I thought, what else am I going to do but take cool photos with the skating community that I am part of?"
Over two decades, Josh has developed a love of using flash to capture movement, and his run-and-gun ethos means he relies on Speedlites to do this. He says, "With flash there is that sense of control as you are battling the chaos of ambient light – figuring out how to overpower or work with the sun – and it's an exciting challenge. The fact that I can control the environment with the gear in my backpack is so empowering. It's then about being as creative as possible to make those lights work for me, and the Canon Speedlite EL-1s are so powerful for that."
There are overarching themes in Josh's dynamic catalogue: a decisive moment, long exposure motion and multi-exposure sequences. Here we explore these themes and offer flash photography tips.