Lighting a Wedding Dress with Small Flashes

It is of course crucial that you shoot the bride wearing the dress so she looks absolutely amazing in it, but it is also important these days to get a great detail shot of the dress before the bride puts on the dress. We always strive to get a great shot of the dress because:

1. It is great for the bride to remember how that baby looked as it was “hanging on the rack” in a sense and…

2. It looks awesome as a detail spread in the wedding album. If you are currently not offering albums, as 50% of wedding photographers out there are not, then you could be missing out on providing a wonderful story for your bride. (If albums make you nuts with all the options and details and to-do’s, then check out the KISS Wedding Album Designer called SWAT which will simplify the process and change your life!).

As Jody and I were shooting our most recent wedding, it was pouring rain and overcast, and the venue we were in did not have a ton of great natural lighting coming into it. So, we opted to hang up the dress in the best looking location that had some decent lighting to get a few shots. We hung it in this great doorway and composed it with the venue’s main staircase, but the problem was the only light source available was a big another glass doorway about 15 feet to camera right which was too far away to allow us to control it. Here is the natural light shot we got.


Not horrible, but we knew we could make it even better. One of the biggest problems we had with this area is that the light was not high enough to create the right type of contrast that we wanted on the shot. The other issue was that there was a small window directly behind my camera position that was adding a big fill light to the light coming from camera right and it was creating that nasty glare you see on the front of the banister.

So we decided to bust out a new small soft-box that we recently picked up from Westcott Lighting called the Pocket Box. This kit has 3 small soft-boxes that are designed to easily fit onto any speedlight 580EX or Sb900 style light. We put on the mid-sized box (shown in the image), put our 580EX light on a small light stand, then triggered the light on MANUAL via our Cyber Sync system (we use the CST for triggering, and the CSRB for receiving the signal).



We set the light off to camera right at about 45 degrees, then placed the center of the light slightly above the dress itself to get a more dramatic lighting pattern. We overpowered the ambient light by 2 stops for added drama and took the final shot.


So we get the shot we envisioned without having to go in and dodge and burn the image, and we have a really nice detail to add to the album for our bride. So even if you don’t have the best lighting conditions, you can still get a great shot if you have the right kind of gear and bring the light with you!

We hope you guys have enjoyed this weeks tips and tricks!! Have an amazing day!!