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December 28, 2019

How to use off camera flash for weddings

Off camera flash may feel intimidating, but it isn’t! When used correctly, it can bring your reception photos to the next level.

off camera flash for weddings example in a missouri barn

First thing’s first.
Here’s a list of all the flash equipment I use for my weddings:

Magbox Starter Kit
(2) Flashpoint eVOLV200 Pro
(2) Flashpoint Zoom R2
Photo/Video Stands

The best OCF tip I ever received was to expose for available light first.

off camera flash for weddings example in a missouri barn

f/2.8
shutter 1/160
ISO 3200

In the photo above I had one eVOLV 200 to the back left of the bride pointed at her head. There was a second in the front right of the groom. Both are at 1/128th power. Exposing for the background means that my flashes work less hard.

I usually have a third flash on camera. That one was set to 1/32nd and was bouncing off the white card that comes with the flash. Occasionally I’ll throw a Magsphere on it.

Family & wedding party formals get much easier with a handle on OCF as well

off camera flash for weddings formal photo example

f/2.8
shutter 1/125
ISO 1600

As always, I exposed for the background to start. To the direct right of me, extended up and pointed down with a Magbox on it. It helps spread the light. The light in this church was already gorgeous. It was just a little dark in there, especially on this platform. This is where the bride wanted to do all of her family portraits and wanted some with her friends nad family here too because the church is special to her and her family. No problem, OCF can help!

The light was at 1/64 power and the most I ever had to move it was dependent on how many people were on this platform.

Minimalist photographer? Only can afford one light? No sweat.

off camera flash for weddings example bride with cousin on dance floor

f/2.0
shutter 1/125
ISO 1250

This quick photo on the dance floor was taken in the same way as the others, but with only one flash on camera. I bounced it off of the white card that comes with my flash. Same formula as above. I exposed for the background (which is why you can see all the people in the background) and then I filled in with flash. It was at 1/64 power.

You can also do this by pointing your flash at a wall or any bright white surface. Some venues you don’t get this lucky or there’s brick everywhere. There are warehouses in Kansas City with black ceilings and dark as hell walls. They’re aesthetically gorgeous but they don’t work well for bouncing flash and in those situations having several flashes is key.

Use your off camera flash for night portraits!

off camera flash for weddings example nighttime portraits

f/2.8
shutter 1/160
ISO 2000

I have an eVOLV 200 light on a small stand behind them pointed up which is what you see coming through Emma’s veil (on the right) it is set to 1/128th power. My second photographer held the second light on a stand to the right of me and above them shining it down. That light was on 1/64th power. It was brought up a bit in post, but again I exposed for the background and the light did the rest of the work. This venue is popular for its marquee and it’s customary to get a portrait out there at night so it’s crucial to know how to.

Once you know the rules, experiment! Not everything is straight forward, but hopefully this gives you a jumping off point.

Here’s some fun reception shots I’ve gotten with the techniques above. This is especially good at overpowering those pesky DJ lights you may encounter. Off camera flash for weddings can take your work from average to stellar super quickly.

Have questions? Leave them below! I love to help how I can.

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  1. Mandy

    December 28th, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    So helpful! Thank you so much for writing this!

kind words

jenny & zach

Choosing Tay to photograph our wedding was one of the easiest and best decisions we made. Both my husband and I are awkward and uncomfortable with being the center of attention and photographed, obviously a bad position to be in on your wedding day. However, Tay made something typically uncomfortable for us into something fun and easy! The photographs are beautiful and captured a lot of special moments as well as the energy of our dance floor at our reception!!

Tay is simply the best! Her work is STUNNING, and we're so lucky to have found her. We had a blast during our engagement shoot -- Tay instantly makes you feel so comfortable, as if you've known her for years. Our family and friends loved the photos as much as we did. It was important to us that we find an experienced photographer who knows how to photograph people of color and is LGBTQ-friendly. Tay absolutely fits the bill. We're so excited to work with her again at our wedding in April. Also, brides-and-grooms-to-be: Check out her blog for some amazing tips! It has become a touchstone guiding us through this crazy process.

wes & jerome

I’m so glad I trusted Tayanna with my wedding day! She not only exceeded my expectations for what I thought our wedding photos could look like, but she had a beautiful sneak peek for me that night! The sneak peek was enough to make me sob. Then the rest of the photos came only 9 days later! I could go on forever. If you need a photographer that’s fun, energetic and on her game sooooo hard, you need Tayanna Harris. She’s killer!!!

katy & tim