Lighting for Weddings: Wedding Photography Details
When it comes to weddings and how to shoot details, lighting for details is probably one of the most overlooked subjects. Really, specific lighting for details? Ugh, what a snoozefest, right? It’s details, who cares! Ironically, it’s probably as important as any other part of the wedding. As with all of my lighting for weddings, I use a good, better, great approach. Time is always a factor when we’re photographing events, but it doesn’t mean we can’t take a few extra steps to get awesome results.
The first detail shots usually start when we arrive for the getting-ready photos. Typically, it’s a cramped hotel room, in complete disarray, and the only available light is coming from the one window, which the makeup artist always bogarts. Be polite, make some room, and get to work.
My favorite new toy is a small pocket reflector that opens to about 12″ in diameter—perfect for shooting rings, flowers, and shoes against a window—and for around $15 you can’t beat it. I can ask someone to hold it, but it’s also easy for me to hold in one hand, and shoot with the other.
We’re always rushed for time here, so I take the easiest, and fastest approach by using a reflector and available light. The key here is to find the best light in the room.
The next three details are sometimes the most difficult for me: tent cards, gift bags, and other knick-knacks that may be displayed outside the reception are often in a hallway, and most times the lighting is poor.
Of course, we’re racing through the venue with about 5 minutes to shoot these details before the guests arrive.
If we have no time, I use my on-camera flash (good, better, great, remember?). If I have a few minutes, I’ll grab an off-camera flash and radio trigger and ask someone to hold it up as high as possible at a 45° angle, providing a much nicer light.
The next three shots fit more in the “great” category. I take these photos when I have the time to play with light and want to create something nicer than what’s already there. In the first two shots, I use an off-camera flash to create a “splash of sunlight” from behind. I do so by putting a small portable strobe with a small 12″ softbox on a stand. Raising the light up about 8–10′ and pointing it down and just off camera will give you this effect. When necessary, I’ll also use my on-camera flash in ETTL mode.
For the last shot (bottom right), I’m using the exact lighting as above, but adding the spotlight to the shot, giving the effect that it’s lighting the shot. However, that light was so warm that using it alone wouldn’t be pleasing. This is where I can really use multiple lighting sources to get that “money” shot—and when I say “money,” I mean give that shot to the florist who designed the table. I’m pretty sure she’ll put your photo (with you logo on it, of course!) at the front of her portfolio.
Looking for another great read – here’s a great article on the Photographic Workflow from Lightroom to Photoshop.