Lighting for Weddings: Down & Dirty Glamour Light

[tps_header]When I started shooting weddings years ago, my boss always asked me to give him lots of options for bride and groom portraits. Of course I’d take the standard portraits out in a park or in the reception hall: Stale, stiff, traditional poses lit with studio strobes made for very cookie-cutter-type portraits that were clean, yet consistent. Some of those options I’d give him included just moving my clients from one background to the next, and doing the same Monte Zuker-ish poses. That was the norm, and we all did it. If there was time, however, we would grab the bride and groom during the reception and do a couple of quick portraits at night or dusk, using those same Monte Zucker-ish poses (forgive me, Monte). Of course, the clients always loved them, and it was a great way to differentiate ourselves from other studios.

I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since then, but I still like to give my clients lots of options today, minus the traditional lighting and posing. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the time to set up perfect lighting, but we do the best we can. We always take the time to scout a location, figure out how we’re going to light it, and prelight the shot as best we can before we ask our clients to join us for the picture. After all, pulling your clients out of their wedding and asking them to wait while you fumble with a sync cord is not acceptable. One of my earliest mentors always said, “They don’t know how good you are, but they judge you on how fast you are.”  

Following are photos and descriptions from different down and dirty glamour lighting setups.



For this shot, I used two bare-head LumoPro LP160s on small plastic bases (they come with the flash), set the power to 1/64, and placed them on the ground at a 45° angle behind the subjects. I triggered them using a radio slave mounted to each unit, and a transmitter placed under my camera body with a piece of Velcro, syncing via the PC port (not the hot shoe). I also used my on-camera flash in E-TTL mode, with a small Sto-Fen softbox on the front pointing straight forward. I also mounted my camera on a tripod, which is rare for me, but 1/20 is borderline for handholding. 

Glamour Light for Weddings, Jason Groupp


Here, I used two LP160s again, but this time placed one of those lights at half power directly behind the subjects. My assistant has the second light and is my VAL (voice-activated lightstand). The light is in front at a 45° angle from the subjects, set to half power, but with a Sto-Fen mounted to it. I don’t need a fill here from my flash because there’s enough daylight coming in from outside.

Glamour Light for Weddings, Jason Groupp


Same thinking for this shot, except I asked my VAL to hit the groom from a 90° angle because I wanted to get that edge of light along his jacket to make him stand out as much as the bride.

Glamour Light for Weddings, Jason Groupp

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