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Mastering Wedding Reception Uplighting

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Here at ShootDotEdit, we know shooting the wedding day can include challenging situations, from shooting in unflattering locations to unfavorable lighting situations. Even though there may not always be the best lighting, you are responsible for capturing gorgeous photos for your clients. Today, Amy and Jordan Demos are sharing tips for how to photograph wedding reception uplighting to tell a better color story for your clients.

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Uplighting is the additional lighting that’s brought in to the reception (typically by a band or DJ) to illuminate the walls and give them color, dimension, and texture, so they’re not black holes where light goes to die. Brides love uplighting because it’s prettier than black and continues the color story of their wedding. If, for example, their colors are blush and navy, pink or purple is a beautiful accent to compliment their choice, rather than orange, a more standard uplighting color. Uplighting is usually only a few hundred dollars more as an add-on with a bride’s band or DJ package, and, as far as photos are concerned, as least in our opinion, it’s one of the best values because it adds an extra pop to all of the reception images!

As a photographer, when you find yourself in a room with uplighting, especially if it’s a flattering color your client is excited about and you know you want to include as much of as possible in your reception photos, here are three quick tips to help you get the maximize every frame.

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Image Compliments of Amy and Jordan Demos

1. Shoot Into a Light-Colored Wall

Take a look around the reception location to see what options you have for shooting. It’s helpful to find a wall that will enhance your photos. The cleaner and lighter-colored the wall is, the more the colors will pop against it. So, if you have a choice between a shooting into the partition that divided the ballroom in half (which was white) versus the wall with some white elements but a lot of dark wood, too, choose the white wall.

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Related: Find out what the best images are to take throughout the wedding day shoot, plus how to get them published, with our Free Guide! 

2. Use a Longer Lens

For open dancing, we shoot much wider, between 24mm and 50mm, because we’re trying to get shots right in the middle of the action; so, we have to be right in the middle of the action. However, when it’s time for first dances, if we can, we’ll back up and shoot with a longer focal length of maybe 70mm (or more). The longer lens gives the appearance that the background is much closer and much larger than it really is compared to where our subject is dancing.

Related: Download our free Guide, The Wedding Photographer’s Guide to Using Presets so you can create dynamic images your clients will love!

3. Shoot from Waist Height

In Arizona, at least, most ballrooms have dark multi-colored carpet and/or wooden dance floors, neither of which are ever consistent with our brides’ color stories as the uplighting on the walls. So, our job as photographers is twofold: shoot in a way that de-emphasizes the floor and emphasizes the uplighting on the walls by squatting just enough during first dances so that our camera is at waist height and we’re shooting slightly “up” at our clients. This showcases more of the color the couple chose and less of the swirly turquoise Gila monsters that adorn our freeways and ballroom floors alike.

Want more awesome stuff like this? Get Amy and Jordan’s FREE video with their five photography life hacks here!

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For you to master wedding reception lighting, you should continue to practice your skills regularly. Learn more about properly lighting and posing during your shoots with our Pro Photographer Lighting and Posing Guide!

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