September 6, 2016

Pancake Session: Dealing with Uplighting


If there is one thing on a wedding day that can send photographers’ hearts to racing in a panicked, what am I going to do sort of way…it’s walking into a reception and seeing tough, tricky light. And that can come in a LOT of different forms: mixed light, super dark venue, wood walls of a barn, super high or dark ceilings, nothing to bounce off of…and maybe the hardest of all: uplighting. That’s because now not only do you have light that’s casting crazy colors on everything in the room….but you can’t get RID of it! Because the couple actually really wanted it there…they paid a lot of money to have it there to make the room look beautiful. And it DOES look beautiful when it’s done right (like this gorgeous wedding we shot at The Greenbrier recently!) But the problem we as photographers face is how to keep that gorgeous uplighting in the background where it belongs, but make sure the light on our subjects (centerpieces, cakes….PEOPLE!) isn’t super orange or red or pink!

We could teach for HOURS on getting this right (and in fact we DO!), but for now the most important things you need to know with dealing with uplighting are the following:

*With uplighting, it’s a balance of underexposing it enough that you don’t make the light wash out (especially once you add the flash…and you WILL need to use a flash to deal with uplighting!)… without cutting it out of the background completely. We’re going to use our shutter speed to achieve that.

*Choosing the right modifiers for your flash is absolutely key when shooting uplighting. The last thing you want to do is flood the room with flash and wash out what the ambient is doing.

*Even if we have clean light on one side of the details from our flash, we’re still going to need to manage what is happening on the shadow side to create those clean results. We’re going to do that by bringing in a reflector to bounce clean light on that shadow side.

Ok, so those are the basics that you need to get started. And if uplighting (or just lighting ANY kind of tough reception) is something that you want to learn more about…then get EXCITED for tomorrow! We have an announcement coming that you WON’T want to miss!


*PS: If you are BRAND NEW to using flash and just need a great crash course to all the basics, definitely check out our Intro to Flash Course HERE!! 


  1. Tatyana Lee

    So incredibly helpful!!!

  2. Sarah Sutherland-Rowe

    great work

  3. SvenStudios Wedding Photography

    Looks like a great result

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