Lighting for Weddings: Formals Suck


I’m not gonna lie. I loathe shooting formals! Yes, they’re important, but inevitably we’re forced into a situation where we have: (a) 5 minutes to shoot 30 formals; (b) families who just don’t want their picture taken; and (c) absolutely nothing to work with for a background. I mean, who was the person that thought “Altar Return” (a term used to describe shots of the wedding party, family groups, and bride and groom at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony) was a good idea?

Has this happened to you? If so, keep reading. (If all your weddings are on sunny beaches with lots of open shade and time to work, please move along.) Of course, it’s our job to try and avoid this situation, but occasionally we just have no other options. So what do we do?


Step One

groupp_wedding_formals_1Sometimes there’s just no time to set up lights and, unfortunately, no other place to shoot formals—you just have to “get ’er done.” In this situation, the ceremony went 20 minutes too long and I had 10 minutes to do all the family formals (confession was starting and we had to go). I used a small STO-FEN diffuser with my on-camera flash, and got what I needed. This is the absolute worst-case scenario, and you should work to avoid this at all costs! 

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