Photographing weddings can be tough for a lot of people, and the area I find most of my assistants struggling is at the reception. Many times throughout a wedding you can rely on natural light, but what is going to make or break your reception images is your ability to master artificial lighting. In this free excerpt from the full Fstoppers wedding tutorial, we share four of our most used lighting setups so you can take the guess work out of properly lighting a wedding venue.
Why is it that taking photos of wedding guests during the reception is so difficult for many photographers? Well for starters, the natural light inside buildings is usually never great. Combine poor natural light with fast moving people and you have a recipe for disaster. When the ambient light levels are low, the only way to capture a correct exposure is to bump the ISO and drag your camera's shutter. Even when shooting at f/2.8 or f/1.4 those adjustments still might leave you with a blurry or muddy looking image. The only remedy to this problem is to enhance your images with flash or strobe light.
Even with a few strobe lights in your camera bag, properly lighting a reception hall is never as easy as it sounds. If the ceilings are white and relatively low you can easily pop a flash on your camera's hot shoe and bounce it straight up. What you are left with is a bight and clean image that is always usable. But more often than not, bounce flash is not going to help you capture the mood of the room. Imagine what happens when your ceiling is not white but instead painted black (or worse a vibrant color), the ceiling and walls are made of red wood, the white ceiling is 30 feet in the air, or the biggest fear of most wedding photographers...no ceiling at all!
The prepared photographer has to be ready for any and all of the above situations. Even the most beautiful of wedding venues is never without its challenges. There are probably an indefinite number of ways to use artificial flash light to sculpt your photographs, but these four techniques will help you build a solid lighting foundation. When you are faced with a difficult situation and you feel like nothing you are trying is working out, our hope is one of these lighting tips will help you produce the best looking images possible in any situation.
For more information on our full wedding tutorial, head over to our page How To Become A Professional Commercial Wedding photographer.