If you’re a photographer that despises Off-Camera-Flash (OCF), this blog post is for you! Ugh. I feel you. I used to hate it too… and it honestly still isn’t my favorite but it’s necessary in order to rise in your professionalism on wedding days after dark!! Off camera flash seems intimidating when you’re trying it for the first time.
It requires you to control and understand light in a new way. Instead of not having control over the light source (you can’t change the sun!), you are now in charge of everything about the light source! From placement to power to height to direction…. It’s all up to you! It can be a lot to future out but today, I’m sharing some information about how to setup and properly use ONE off-camera flash during your receptions!!
If you’re not using OCF, chances are… your images from receptions look somewhat like this…..
Flat and dull
Just kinda…. Blah.
But with just ONE Off Camera Flash and some basic flash setting knowledge, you can transform your reception shots to look more like this!! :
When you’re using Off Camera Flash, the first thing you have to do is recognize that there is a system for setting it up!
Now, this is just ONE of the setups that I recommend when using just ONE Off-Camera-Flash!
This is the setup that I recommend for specialty dances (not party-dancing!). This is important to pay attention to! If you want to hear my setups with ONE OCF for cake-cutting and toasts and party-dancing, I’m explaining it all in this YOUTUBE EPISODE!! (link)
Ok, so for the first dance, father/daughter and mother/son dances, here is what I recommend:
When I’m setting up my one-CFP setup, I am normally doing it on the dance floor and I’m deciding what I want in the background. Unlike shooting outdoors with natural light, I have CONTROL over where the light source is going to come from! So I normally choose to have my background free of the DJ and his equipment.
This is important! You don’t want your flash in the background of your shot, we are using your OCF to expose the FRONT of your subjects. Your on-camera bounce card will provide some extra light but the main light source is your OCF placed 45 degrees from you to your couple!
This is the technical part that gets a little tricky! I explain it more in-depth in this Youtube video! Overall, I don’t want a crazy amount of flash power coming from my one OCF. If it’s too powerful, my clients will be over-exposed and if I try to adjust my camera settings to fixed the over-exposure issue, the background will literally become black and dark! Not good! So, I prefer a lower flash power (1/64 is a good place to start) and a higher ISO! This allows the flash hitting my couple to be softer and the background glow to show up! I also recommend not shooting higher than a 2.8 aperture with this setup!
There is so much more to share! If you want more OCF insight and education, here’s a 14 minute Youtube Video that breaks down what I just shared and much more!!
In this Youtube Video you’ll find:
Enjoy and if you want to watch me shoot a REAL WEDDING day for FREE, click HERE!!! This is an amazing opportunity to what this FLASH education in action in a real situation! KJ All Access as been called “A Visual Learner’s DREAM!” CLICK HERE!
The day started with bubbly personalities and bubbly drinks in the historic Linden Row house in downtown Richmond. I walked in, found Leah and then one by one I met her amazing bridesmaids. From the moment I met them all, I knew this was going to be a fun day, not lacking any energy! I loved the way this day started…. however, it got even better the moment dad walked in.
It’s an exciting day in Youtube land! We have just launched a brand new series that we’re really excited about!!!! So often when I’m going through KJ All Access episodes and editing our behind the scenes coverage of our wedding days, I find myself noticing a lot of scenarios that require a lot of thought and problem solving in order to create a FINAL image that I love!!
Gosh it feels good to do what I love to do again! This was my first shoot back since maternity leave ended and I loved every minute of it! I have known Matt and Abby for years and years and so while this was a true portrait session with paying clients and outfit changes, etc…. it was also a shoot with dear friends and it was wonderful to spend some time with them!
First of all, let me just say, I do NOT endorse not hiring a professional birth photographer! As you read this, keep in mind that I desperately wanted to have my friend and fellow photographer Jill with me during my fourth birth. I was heartbroken that she wasn’t allowed to be there!
Have you ever showed up for a wedding or a portrait session and took one look at the location and thought…. “You’ve got to be kidding me!!! How am I going to make this work?!” I have. I have had so many scenarios in my career where I have thought….“Ok, how in the world am I going to make this lousy location work as a great portrait location!!?”.
It still feels surreal to tell people about what we do for a living. We photograph weddings and we teach other people how to photograph weddings. It’s quite literally a dream job for a creative like myself who loves people! Every month when we do these Student Spotlights, I’m reminded all over again how much of a privilege it is to be a part of these photographer’s lives and play a small role in their stories.