infographic stating off camera flash techniques for dramatic wedding reception images

Want to add a bit of drama and nuance to your wedding reception photos? Look no further than our blog, where we’ll share some amazing off-camera flash lighting techniques that can help you create memorable and dramatic wedding reception images. With off-camera flash techniques, you can capture every special moment of the day, whether it’s the first dance or heartfelt speeches. By adding a touch of creativity to your lighting setup, you’ll be able to produce stunning images that your clients will love. And best of all, knowing how to use off-camera flash techniques will give you the confidence to tackle even the trickiest lighting scenarios. So, what are you waiting for? Head over to our blog now!

Off-Camera Flash Techniques For Wedding Receptions

a wedding couple dancing in the middle of a beautifully lit wedding reception hall

Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @jorgesantiagophoto

One of the lighting conditions you will come across is the reception on the wedding day. It can often provide multiple challenging lighting setups to overcome. With low lighting, uplighting, and other conflicting light sources, off-camera flash techniques are a great way to capture the necessary moments for this part of the day.

Off-camera flash photography is a technique where the flash is not mounted on the camera but is instead positioned away from the camera. This technique allows you to create directional, dramatic lighting that is difficult to achieve with on-camera flash or natural light. Following are off-camera flash lighting techniques to help you get those perfect reception photographs:

1. Setting Up The Flash

To start using off-camera flash, you'll need a few pieces of equipment: a flash unit, a light stand, a wireless trigger, and a light modifier. Once you have all the equipment set up, you will need to position it correctly and consider the direction of light you want in your photos. If the flash is too close to the subject, it can create harsh, unflattering shadows. If it's too far away, the light may not be strong enough. A good rule of thumb is to position the flash at a 45-degree angle to the subject and slightly above eye level. This helps to create a dramatic, high-fashion look. Experiment with different positions and see which ones work best for your wedding shots.

Suggested Read: 5 Simple Tricks For Shooting Portraits At Night

2. Exposing The Perfect Image 

a wedding couple dancing and having fun with everyoneImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @robbmccormickphotography

When using off-camera flash, it's essential to get the right amount of light and color balance. Start by switching your camera settings to manual mode and adjust your shutter speed to sync with your flash. Then, set your aperture and ISO to your desired settings before taking a test shot to ensure your flash provides enough light. Finally, check your flash settings to see how much light you’re getting. If it's too bright or too dark, adjust your flash power accordingly. Additionally, you might want to set your white balance and use gels to color your flashlight to match the color temperature of the ambient light.

3. Diffusing The Flash For Soft, Natural Results

To achieve natural and soft lighting in your images, reflectors and diffusers can be used with flash. Reflectors bounce light back onto the subject, filling in shadows and creating a softer look. Diffusers spread out the light, providing an even illumination across the subject. These tools can create professional-quality photos without additional lighting. For example, with larger light sources like softboxes or umbrellas, a bit of reflection can fill in shadows. Similarly, diffusers soften the light, and you can use various tools like light panels and deflectors to achieve different effects.

Suggested Read: Fast 5: Reception Lighting For Pro Wedding Photographers

4. Working With Props And Backgrounds

a low light silhouette of a wedding coupleImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @robbmccormickphotography

One of the benefits of using off-camera flash is the ability to add drama and depth to your scenes. You can use props, such as chandeliers or string lights, at the wedding venue to create interesting light patterns and add texture to your photos. Backgrounds can also play a crucial role in your photos. Look for interesting architectural features or scenic backgrounds to add depth and interest to your shots.

5. Capturing Motion With Speed Lights

Using speed lights can be an excellent way to capture motion blur in wedding reception photos. For example, using a continuous light source can add movement and create dynamic images on the dance floor. You can also use slow shutter speeds with a handheld flash unit to create stunning portraits of the couple.

Scenario: Photographing Table Decor

Below, we share a technique by Pye Jirsa from SLR Lounge for photographing table decor at receptions:

wedding reception table decor

Image by Lin & Jirsa Photography

Part of the Wedding Day: Reception

Location: Reception Room

Lighting Condition: Competing light sources from the reception room or DJ booth

Subject(s): Reception Table Decor

When working with reception detail shots, you can use additional lighting to create a strong light source for your images. In the image below, Pye uses a Lowel GL-1 and positions it on the left side of the table to highlight the details. This helps to cast a nice spread of light across the image. Because there is also light in the background, Pye increases the power of the light so it produces a light that is slightly brighter than the background.

By doing this, the details on the table will stand out rather than blend into their surroundings, as seen in the final image above. Such images can also be created with flashes, and you can use this off-camera flash setup to capture several of the reception details.

off camera flash techniques reception

Image by Lin & Jirsa Photography


Here are a few additional tips to help you shoot with off-camera flash techniques during the wedding reception:

  • Assess the room and determine the best position for the flashes
  • Decide when to overpower DJ lights ahead of time
  • Add in foreground effects for fun and creative shots

With these simple tips, you can achieve breathtaking photographs that will become a statement piece of your portfolio. Don't forget to capture the wedding party and flower girls, who will appreciate being included in these unique and stunning shots. Following the photography lighting techniques mentioned above will help you create balanced, natural, and unforgettable photographs.

Further Read: Wedding Photography Lighting For The Bridal Prep And Details

This brings us to the end of our third part of the blog series on using off-camera flash techniques for different times of the day. We're grateful to Pye Jirsa for sharing his valuable insights in the first and second posts – offering suggestions for lighting setups during the getting-ready scene and indoor portrait sessions to help you create stunning and distinctive images. We hope that this series has equipped you with the knowledge to master off-camera flash photography for reception sessions as well.

At ShootDotEdit, we are committed to helping you hone your skills so that you can grow as a wedding photographer. And we also love providing you with our professional photo editing services to lessen your post-production workload and help you focus on building your business instead. To learn more about how we can help you, check out our pricing plans.

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