6 Lighting Setups To Take Your Reception Images To the Next Level

Reception lighting is where most photographers struggle the most. The chaos of the dance floor mixed with low-light shooting conditions make for a constant struggle. But these six lighting setups will help you take your reception images to the next level. 

When first starting out with wedding photography, most people begin as “natural light” photographers. And while this is all well and good when getting your foot into the door, you almost always need to resort to flash when the reception starts. Because of this, shooters resort to direct flash or on-camera bounce flash to get by. And while this on-camera flash technique works well enough, most photographers never venture away from it because it’s so easy. But the problem with easy is that it won't get you the types of images that will separate you from the herd of other photographers doing the same thing. 

Enter Lanny and Erika from Two Mann Studios, who have long been masters of their craft. But not only are they amongst the world's best wedding photographers, they are also some of the best educators in the industry. And because they are known for their in-your-face dance floor images, you definitely want to learn from what they have to say. 

In the video, they explain one of the six techniques that they use and have dubbed “The 69.” For this setup, they use a combination of on-camera flash mixed with an off-camera flash. The trick here is that while either Lanny or Erika shoot, the other is constantly maneuvering the off-camera flash around the dance floor. The idea behind this setup is to use the on-camera flash to light the subject while the off-camera flash adds rim light and dimension. 

While this is a technique I tend to use myself quite often, I almost always have my off-camera flash on a stand. The problem with this is that the action on the dance floor is unpredictable. So, as moments unfold, I find myself always needing to run around in order to adjust the placement of that stand. What always happens is by the time I get my placement in a good location, the moment has moved or a new moment has begun. 

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heikoknoll's picture

"The Masturbater" / "The 69" / "Sideways Cowgirl" / "The Threeway" / "Doggy Style" .... this is actually the first time I've seen the "sex sells" marketing strategy being applied to photo techniques. I do hope the best (sex?) educators in the world don't forget to remind their students that using these terms during a wedding might lead to a certain amount of estrangement (while communicating with each other "We'll do a threesome now!". "switch to doggystyle" "sideways cowgirl for the bride") ...

Tom Weishaar's picture

Heiko.. I got lost while clicking through. While I was searching for the primer on 6 techniques, thinking that I was going to learn something... I got NOTHING. Except for the feeling that this was the best example of CLICK BATE that I have seen in a long time. For some stupid reason I actually provided my name, email & phone for them to market to. I'm left feeling a little unhappy with fstoppers (who I really like). Still shaking my head...

Lanny Mann's picture

Hey Tom, that's super weird. This should have taken you straight to the full free class. It's a 40 minute workshop on dancefloor shooting & lighting. And it's totally free. If you send us an email we can help make sure you're able to access it. Sorry for the trouble. Sometimes technology fails us.

Lanny Mann's picture

Hey Heiko. We trust that our students have that basic level of common sense, yes. lol When you watch the full free class (40 minutes), I think that'll be quite clear. :)