3 Reception Lighting Tips Every Photographer Can’t go Without

“The most difficult part of shooting a reception is walking into the unknown.” 
-Jody Gray
No one likes being caught off-guard, and shooting wedding receptions can have many unknowns. We wanted to address a few of the problems wedding photographers can encounter.
Problem 1: 
When you walk into any reception, you need to quickly assess the situation, make a decision on HOW you are going to light it, and then set up your gear (oh yeah, and take amazing images!). It can be super fast-paced at that moment, and can cause some anxiety each time you shoot a wedding.
How to Solve this stress-inducing problem: 1. Send out a questionnaire before the wedding (ours has 56 questions on it!) and have part of that questionnaire ask what the bride and groom will be doing when they FIRST walk into the reception. Will they be introduced and go straight into first dances, or will dinner start? Once you know that, then you know what you need to be prepped for.

2. We also always ask the bride and groom to give us 10 minutes from the time we all arrive at the reception to when they come into the hall. This gives us the time to assess the room, set up our gear, and take a few test shots. That way we never miss a key shot that is happening with our clients!

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Problem 2: 
The other huge problem that you run into at wedding receptions is getting great quality light on your subject with off-camera flash.Sometimes we can simply bounce flash and that is awesome when we can do it. But other times the room just does not allow that, so we need to use off-camera flash AND make it look good.

How do we do that? 

1. Modify the light.

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We use the Rapid Box (26 inch version) from Westcott to do this. This modifer is SUPER simple to set up (pops open like an umbrella) and comes with the light stand mount that holds any speedlite on the back. It makes the light larger and softer, and makes your photos look stellar!2. Get that light onto your client at the right angle.

We try and 45 degree light or “short-light” our clients whenever possible. This is simply shooting the light in from the side, and then photographing the image from the shadow side to create that highlight and shadow on the face. When you couple a great light modifer, with a great lighting pattern, and then blend the ambient and flash power just right (which is easy to do) you get stunning images!

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Problem 3: 
The third problem we always ran into at receptions was when we were doing off-camera flash shots, we sometimes needed to shoot a quick shot somewhere else that was not set for our off-camera rig. We would then have to take our transmitter off of our camera, run and grab our speedlite and throw it back on the camera, and then try and get the shot.A Better Solution

We realized this was not a good way to shoot in a high-paced environment, so instead we ALWAYS keep a speedlite on our camera even when doing off-camera flash.

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(image by Rachel Ruffer)
We take the CyberSync Transmitter (which is SUPER tiny and inexpensive) and add velcro to our speedlite and to the transmitter, and then fasten it to the left side (for Canon) of the flash. We then take the 2.5mm to PC port cable (which comes with the transmitter) and plug that into the left side of the PC port on the camera.We can then turn off the flash on our camera and it will fire the off-camera lights hooked up this way. If we need the on-camera flash for any reason, it is right there ready to rock in the blink of an eye!


How To Learn More

Just a quick reminder: in just a few hours (at 11:59 p.m. Pacific), the early bird extended pricing for our brand-new Reception Lighting video workshop is expiring (increasing by $100).

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If you want to watch us shoot what we just talked about in this blog, save money, AND get a TON of exclusive bonuses, don’t miss it!Get it now.

And like everything we do, this comes with a money-back guarantee. If you buy the DVD (or one of our special launch packages), follow what we teach, and within 30 days don’t get better results than you’ve been getting, we’ll give you your money back!

Grab it right here.