adding some "umph" to the reception


When I first started shooting weddings, the first part of the shoot I fell in love with was the bridal portrait session. And to be honest, that still is one of my favorite parts. I love shooting women! I love making them look beautiful, happy, engaging, coy, seductive, you name it! I love exploring the artistic capture of all women. The couple portraiture is really fun for me too. And the family formals have their own charm. There's really nothing like seeing a dad tear up looking at his daughter in a bridal gown.

But to be honest, for a while, the receptions were kind of flat for me. Fun for the wedding party and guest, for sure! But as the photographer, I felt rather limited. Many times, receptions are dark, and have funky DJ lights shooting through them. Sometimes, they can even be pitch black! I think that's why many wedding photographers just kind of shrug, hit the dancers with bright, directional flash and call it a day. But for me, adding in some interesting lighting and playing around with shutter drag has made all the difference.

I still make sure that I manage to capture emotional, intimate moments (during first dances, slow dances, speeches, etc.) But when it comes to the party time, I find that adding in a few off camera flashes and getting some backlit shots creates really dynamic images that make the reception feel alive! If you're trying to capture the feel of motion, try using a really slow shutter speed. Your flash will freeze the subject, but the drag will create some cool motion effects with the ambient light.


a newly wed couple dances their first dance

backlit off camera flash creates a flare during a first dance








So if you're shooting out in the middle of a field somewhere, where there's no ceiling to bounce off of, no reflective surfaces to work with, and basically a total lack of light, don't despair! Get yourself a light stand, a few pocket wizards, and create some dramatic images for your clients!


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