I think it’s SO appropriate that we’re writing this post during the scariest month of the year :) Because if you were to ask most photographers what strikes FEAR in their heart the most on the wedding day, it would be walking into situations where they have no choice but to break out their flash!
I think a lot of photographers when they start out mistakenly believe that knowing your flash and lighting ONLY comes into play during the reception. But the longer you shoot, the more you realize that nothing could be farther from the truth! At our weddings this year alone, we broke out our flash for shooting the dress, the getting ready, the ceremony, the family photos, couple portraits, the reception details, and finally all those key moments in the reception. In other words, we needed to KNOW our light all throughout the day.
And I think most photographers know they need to KNOW their light all throughout the day. Because you can really tell when somebody doesn’t. But the idea of learning flash, and even scarier, stopping to break out a flash on the wedding day keeps most people stuck. And that FEAR of flash continues! And maybe the biggest fear of all is just even knowing where you should set your light up to begin with.
If there is ONE question we get over & over from photographers it’s this: for the ceremony, for the reception, for the details…WHERE the heck do you place your light??
So today we wanted to start breaking that fear, one step at a time, simply by talking about the most common questions we get about using flash on a wedding day. And then we wanted to do one step even BETTER! And so that’s why we put together a brand new FREE quick guide to 7 of our favorite go-to lighting diagrams for exactly where to place your light throughout the wedding day!! Ceremony, family photos, night portraits, reception details, dances, sparklers… we’ve got you covered!
1. Doesn’t it take too long to set up to use at a fast-paced wedding day? Not at all! When we taught this at four cities in Germany, this was a question that came up a lot. So we put it to the test by timing Justin doing the whole set up start to finish. It took 24 seconds. You can find pockets of 24 seconds throughout a wedding day to be able to serve your clients no matter what happens!
2. Isn’t it too heavy to carry a bunch of gear like that with you to a wedding? I want to travel light! The most basic set up is really not that much. Most of the components will fit right in a Think Tank camera roller. And then you just need a stand bag that you can sling over your shoulder to carry the stand and umbrella. When it’s for something that can be a total game changer in your work, it’s worth the little bit of extra gear.
3. Isn’t it obtrusive to break out a light like that? Believe me, based on our Why, this is something we definitely asked ourselves! But the key to remember here is that, with the exception of shooting the reception details when no one is in the room yet, we aren’t moving that light around once we place it. So because we aren’t messing with it once it’s up, people can quickly forget about it. Also, we’ve found that even though it’s a larger set up, by separating the flash from our camera so that it’s not moving around with us (and therefore is usually behind the guests), it actually becomes less distracting than an on camera flash.
4. Are you both using the same set up? Yes! When we were using speed lights we put two flashes on two brackets (a stroboframe bracket with two hot shoes) with two sets of pocket wizards on different channels behind the same umbrella. So we could each fire our own flash independently of one another, but we still only had one umbrella set up to minimize our obtrusiveness. Now that we’re using the Profoto B2s, they have enough power and fast enough recycling time for us to both be able to fire one and never have a problem.
5. Are you putting your light in one place or having an assistant move around with it? In every case except the reception details we put it in once place and don’t move it to stay unobtrusive. With the reception details, we’ll go ahead and move it around since no one is in there yet.
6. What stands, triggers, umbrellas, etc do you recommend? Click on the What’s In Our Bag section at the top of the blog to see our full list of recommended gear!
7. How high do you recommend putting your light stand? We want it to be over people’s heads so that it’s not casting shadows from one person to the next, but we also want it to be a safe height. We recommend 8-10 feet. And to achieve that height, a 13 foot stand is actually ideal for that. That’s because it allows us to not max out every section (the way we would have to if we were only starting with a 10 ft stand), which creates a much more solid stand!
8. Are you pointing the one light set up down toward the ground/subject? That’s a great question and one we get a lot. We’re not actually pointing it down at our subject. Instead, we’re keeping that umbrella or soft box straight up and down. And the reason for that is because we want it to act like a window. If you think about it, windows are straight up and down so the light that comes through them falls off very naturally into the room in planes of fall off. If we were to tilt our One Light Set Up down then it wouldn’t throw light as far and it would eventually create a big bright, unnatural hot spot on the ground that would give away that we were using flash.
Here’s to being a light!
**PS: Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of our brand NEW Quick Reference Guide of our 7 favorite lighting diagrams!! You’ll never have to wonder where to place your light throughout the wedding day again!