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Fast 5: Reception Lighting for Pro Wedding Photographers

ShootDotEdit’s Fast Five — 5 useful quick tips you can apply to your photography business right now!

Photo by Alistair Jones of @ideal_imaging_photography

When it comes to lighting at wedding receptions, depending on the venue and time-of-day, sometimes all you need is an on-camera flash and maybe a couple off-camera as well. 

It can be tough to nail the lighting down just right, but to help you out, we’ve put together 5 quick tips to help you get the perfect light at your receptions — everytime.

5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Reception Lighting

1. Wedding Reception Introductions

When it comes to wedding reception introductions, make sure you’ve got a fast shutter speed so you don’t miss any of the action.  Also, try to only use on-camera flash — just keep it simple!

2. Perfect Lighting on the Head Table

If the wedding is like most of them, the head table will probably be against a wall. This can be a nightmare when using direct-flash.  If you have a speedlight, set it up on a light stand + MagMod sphere, and have it at about a 60-90 degree angle from where you’re standing.  With this setup, it’s best to stand off to the side of the head table and catch that great directional light!

3. Speech Givers Need Lighting, Too!

With the speech-givers, you’ll find they hardly ever stand directly next to the wedding couple.  So to combat this dilemma, take the speedlight + MagMod setup from before and trigger it with an on-camera Pocket Wizard set to Channel 1.  Then, put an on-camera flash on top of that Pocket Wizard and switch it on for any speech givers. But don’t forget to turn your Pocket Wizard to Channel 2!

4. First Dance & Cake Cutting

When you’re working alone, it can be difficult to set up off-camera flashes just right.  This is especially true for the first dance and cake cutting. You want to make sure you pre-setup any off-camera flash in the areas where the action will be, then trigger the off-camera flash with something like a Pocket Wizard.  

5. Cutting It Up on the Dance Floor

When it comes time for the guests to dance the night away, consider lightening your load a bit.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to switch to a 28mm lens with an on-camera flash. Still keep your off-camera on the dance floor, triggered with the Pocket Wizard.  You just want to make sure you can pull enough ambient light into the room and make sure your shutter speed is fast enough for the action at hand.

For more detailed instruction on reception lighting, including common scenarios you’ll run into from time to time, check out this article on Reception Lighting Tips for Photographers!


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