How to Shoot Outdoor Receptions at Night

Here at ShootDotEdit, we provide photo editing services for professional photographers. We also provide education for photographers and talk quite a bit about what many face during the wedding day shoot. From getting ready problems to wedding timelines falling behind, there are plenty of scenarios that arise. With any scenario you face, it’s important to be prepared and ready so you can capture the images that matter. Today, we want to focus on the last part of the wedding day and the challenges it can bring.

Night Photography Tips

The wedding reception provides some memorable moments, from touching and emotional speeches to fun dancing with the couple and their loved ones. Like other parts of the wedding day, the reception also provides issues, especially when it happens outdoors at night. Night photography has its challenges, especially when you are faced with limited lighting. Keep reading to discover 2 common scenarios that happen, as well as solutions to help you solve the problem and capture images your clients will love.

Problem #1

Image by SDE Wedding Pro Chris Arson Photography

You have trouble finding focus because of how dark it is outside.

When it’s time for the wedding reception, you realize there is barely any lighting available. With it completely dark, there can be difficulty achieving consistent focus with your camera. The wedding reception already has so many moving parts, and now you have to figure out how to capture the important images and make sure they are in focus.

What can you do in this situation? Bring along a video light to help your camera focus more consistently. A video light is small enough for you to carry around and can quickly allow you to position light in a way that makes it easier to capture images in focus.

Related: Are you comfortable identifying light in any location?

Problem #2

You do not have a ceiling to bounce flash off of.

You brought your off-camera flash along to the shoot and realize there is no ceiling. Without a ceiling, you cannot bounce flash off of it to create light for the images you capture. Bouncing light helps soften it when it hits your subject, so without a ceiling to bounce off of, the light may look harsher on your subjects. There is also a chance the light can look flat, which eliminates any dimension to the photo.

Image by SDE Wedding Pro Diane Nicole Photography

What can you do in this situation? Add an additional flash to the location that remotely fires at the same time as your main flash to help soften the light and add dimension to the photos. You can also bring a diffuser to help soften the light and avoid any of the harsh shadows on your subjects.

Additionally, you can add a kicker (which is a flash on a stand) to provide rim light and a boom (which is a flash on a monopod). This helps you control the direction of the light and place it on your couple.

Related: What are 4 easy ways to diffuse light?

Tip: Keep in mind during extremely dark wedding receptions, make sure your ISO is higher and your shutter speed is slower. If there is any ambient light available, this will help your camera capture as much of it as possible.

There are various scenarios that can happen during the wedding reception, especially when it is outdoors at night. When you are prepared for these situations, you can overcome night photography challenges and create dynamic and even dramatic images.

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