As a photographer who uses primarily natural light, using flash used to scare me! On top of being a newbie who thought that learning how to use a DLSR was complicated, it was overwhelming to also learn about flash. However, I knew that I needed to learn how to use flash in order to produce better wedding reception photos.
I wouldn't say that I'm the lighting expert, but I wanted to share my flash set up for weddings because so many photographers have been asking me about it. Special thank you to the people in my Tiffany Wu Photography Facebook group for giving me great questions to blog about!
Here is a break down of my lighting set up for wedding receptions:
Disclaimer: before I get started, I'd like to note that I have probably the cheapest flash setup compared to a lot of wedding photographers. Both the Neewer and Yongnuo brands are cheaper, but they get the job done for me so I've been happy with them. However, I would highly recommend buying 2 of the things you find essential just in case it breaks. As photographers, we know that you get what you pay for. I'm sure that some of my equipment might not last as long as the more expensive brands. Considering that I only shoot 1-2 weddings per month, I'm not wearing it down as much as some photographers. If you think you'll be using the lighting equipment more frequently, I highly recommend investing in more expensive light stands and mounts.
On-Camera Flash Setup
The flash speedlite I'm using mounted on top of my camera is my Canon 600. I use the Canon 600 because it syncs so well with both my Canon camera and my Canon lenses. The reason that I think the Canon 600's are worth the investment is that it makes off camera flash SO EASY. (I'll explain this in the next section)
People are always asking what the "squishy thing" on top of my flash is. That's my Gary Fong diffuser. I love the way it softens the light of the flash!
Off-Camera Flash Setup
I took a wide shot to show the behind the scenes of my flash set up. My off-camera flash includes my light stand with the flash shoe mount on top that holds either my Yongnuo 600 or Canon 600 speedlite.
When my sister Michelle comes with me to weddings, I let her use my Canon 600 on her camera and the Yongnuo 600 for my off camera. When she's not there, I use the Canon 600 for off camera. Both of them easily sync with my on-camera Canon 600, which is why I love them! No need for any extra transmitters or hot shoes or any extra gear to make them sync with each other.
Also, here's the final image after cropping. This was both one of my all time favorite candid images and flash shots that I've taken. It's also one of the bride's favorites from her wedding because she loved her funny reaction to her groom!
When you use off camera flash, it uses more battery than if you're just using the on camera flash by itself. I've used both rechargeable AA batteries and disposable ones, but I find that the rechargeable ones seem to drain faster so I end up buying the disposable ones in bulk!
I also took a tip from Melissa Jill Photography, and invested in the Bolt battery pack. It's saved me so many batteries since I started using it.
I only use my umbrella on my light stand when I am using it for portraits. This doesn't happen that often since I work with my couples on the timeline for their wedding to make sure they get natural light for portraits. However in this case, Lily loved the interior of her venue, so I took this as an opportunity to work on being creative with flash.
I don't often use my video light, but it's great to have in a pinch to light up some reception details. As for carrying the flash equipment, I put the stands and umbrella in my Neewer bag and the speedlites and battery in my Pelican case.
I hope this helps! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions for me to feature on future blogs :)
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