Wedding Photography Lighting

Lighting and Metering Tips for Wedding Photographers

Wedding Photography Lighting

Wedding Photography Lighting


I would love it if you expanded more on the lighting needed. If you bring studio equipment to a reception, where would you set it up?

Also, would you meter every shot at an indoor reception, or just set the camera to automatic mode and use a flash?

Would you not use the studio equipment for formal shots at the church? I feel that I can take excellent shots of the people, the lighting is what terrifies me. Thanks for any input you can give.


Firstly, with regards to the studio lighting at the reception. We always used to check to see if there was a suitably large enough place near the main area or even in a separate room nearby to set up a backdrop and couple of lights.

It would be a permanent set up to shoot portraits of guests. Therefore, once all the lights and camera settings were made, you needn’t change them.

At the church or wherever I shoot the formals, it all depends on the day and the weather itself. If sunny, I sometimes have the sun behind the guests and use fill in flash to light them properly. This way there is no squinting or need for sunglasses.

If the sun is quite high and not a problem for the guests, I just use aperture or shutter priority and again use fill in flash for the shadows.

If it is overcast and quite dark, I use shutter priority. I use a shutter speed of about 200th/sec to ensure I get no camera shake or blurriness and still use fill in flash. The camera will sort out the aperture as I would rather have control over the shutter speed than the depth of field if I had to choose.

In the church

Using studio equipment at the church isn’t really an option. I have never seen it done as it is somewhat "overkill" and unnecessary.

At the reception I shot 2 days ago, the camera was on manual exposure full time using bounced flash with the following settings…

  • ISO 320
  • Shutter speed 80th/sec
  • Aperture f5.0 or 5.6
  • FEC (flash exposure compensation on camera) of +2 or +3

FEC increases the flash’s power output to double or triple the norm. This is to compensate for the additional length the light has to travel when bouncing.

I used either a 24-70mm or 70-200mm zoom and all images were lit perfectly. Manual is best for wedding photography lighting in this situation as you want to be concentrating more on what is happening around you rather than your camera settings.

Wedding Photography Lighting

Once the dancing is under way I like to experiment with long shutter speeds and bursts of flash to get some creative effects with the dance floor lighting. A good time to play.

Wedding Photography Lighting

I usually do a reccie of each place before the wedding and work out what settings I will need for each area and then stick to those on the day.

Any minor tweaks can be done in post-processing especially if you shoot RAW. If you don’t, I suggest that you learn how to as soon as possible.

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