Often times during wedding/event photography, you'll find yourself with very small windows of opportunity to capture the best shots. In this video I'm going to show you how preparation and pre-lighting will set you up for success, especially when you only have 10 seconds of time with your couple.
How I Got The Perfect Shot With Only 10 Seconds Video
Why Pre-Light? The 5 Minute Reception Rule
When we take a couple out of the reception to take some nighttime photos we have a rule to never take them out for more than 5-10 minutes. It's their wedding day and we feel that it would be incredibly rude of us to keep them from their guests. We have attended weddings where the photographer/cinematographer pulls the couple for 30 or 45 minutes for photos/video. It really kills the mood of the party. For this reason, we teach our staff the importance of pre-lighting our scene before we bring in the couple. This way we can maximize the time we have with them and return them quickly to their party.
Setting Up The Shot
To see the complete setup for this shoot, I'd recommend watching the video above. But, here are the basics.
For this shot I found a prop tree that the couple used to guide guests to their tables at the reception. Behind the tree was a mirror that reflected a chandelier from the ceiling. By placing my couple in between these two bokehlicious elements I would be able to get a beautiful shot without having to take the couple too far away from their party. For this shot I'm using a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II on my Canon 5D Mark III and I'm shooting at 200mm to compress the background mirror with the foreground tree.
With my composition set up, I now move onto lighting. I want a bit more light on the seating tree so I set up a Phottix Mitros+ flash about 15 feet away pointing directly at the tree. I also have an assistant using a Lowel GL-1 on my couple to bring them up to a proper exposure in my photograph.
The Final Shot
When I finally had my couple in place I took a test shot, which fortunately looked great because right after the test shot I instructed the couple to go in for a kiss, and that's when my time ran out. Bursting through the door comes out one of the groomsmen with party-torn pants yelling "IT'S YOUR SONG" (which can be seen at 9:45 in the video). The couple then ran off into the reception hall to dance the night away and I was left with this single test shot.
Join Us in the Bahamas!
I hope you enjoyed this video and article, and if you're interested in learning more about wedding photography, I have only 6 seats left at the Fstoppers workshop in the Bahamas!