Looking for creative ideas to take amazing wedding reception photographs of the couple’s friends and family members? Don’t know how to photograph a reception and work with wedding photography lighting? Let me help you with it. Read my article below.
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For each wedding photographer, it is important to understand that even in conditions of insufficient light, like in the reception, you cannot count on using a lot of special lighting equipment since it all needs to be carried. In this case, I always recommend finding an ideal flash for you. Use devices that can be folded, because you will not have time during a busy, noisy celebration to arrange the light.
While you’re taking pictures of the grand entrance, it’s vital to remember that this process isn’t all about the newlyweds walking inside. The images should also include the family and friends who are cheering on the happy couple. After all, the goal is to demonstrate the importance of the occasion. The best way to do that when it comes to wedding party photography is to show the emotions of the relatives and friends.
As the newlywed couple swirls around in a loving embrace, take distant and close-up wedding reception photographs to showcase both the environment and the emotions of the bride and the groom. You can also search for objects you can shoot through to make the images more unique. Such objects are also helpful to exclude unwanted details from the frame.
Even though speeches and wedding toasts aren’t always funny (due to the overabundance of cliché anecdotes), they are almost guaranteed to be emotional. Therefore, it’s vital to take photos of both the couple’s reaction and the guests’ facial expressions as they are giving their speeches and to find a spot where the wedding reception lights give you the best results. This is where a 70-200 mm lens comes in handy as it supports the needed focus range.
Similarly to wedding receptions photos of the first dance and the speeches, the perfect background for the cake-cutting ceremony is the guest party. If you can talk with the coordinator, tell him\her about your shooting preferences.
In case you’re in charge of this process yourself, strive to place the newlyweds between you and the people in the background.
Now, if the groom is taller than the bride, ask him to stand behind her as they approach the cake. Remember to stay alert all time as the cake-cutting can fly by in a few minutes without you even noticing.
When you capture the bouquet- and garter-tossing, you have to start off by giving your attention to the bride and groom, only to immediately shoot the emotions of the people wanting to catch the objects. Everything happens very fast and you only have one chance to get it right, so you have to anticipate this moment to position yourself properly near the group.
When the guests flock onto the dance floor, make sure to follow them, or better, join them. A zoom lens such as a 24-70mm is a better pickup for these circumstances. As it is effective at various focal lengths, you are able to catch the crowd in both close-up positions and with more people in the frame, adding more space between them and the viewfinder. A wide-angle prime lens would also ensure some creativity. Remember to stick around the epicenter of the dance floor and shoot a lot; this is important if you want to get heartwarming wedding reception photographs. These series illuminate the fun vibes of the party that newlyweds and guests will want to recall later.
Take some time before the reception to study the location. There are definitely certain reasons why this couple prefers this particular place. Whether it’s the architecture, the landscape, or the art, this location is special for this wedding reception, so take advantage of it to exceed the client’s expectations and make the couple’s “sneak away” session memorable. As this shooting usually happens closer to the final part of the wedding, make sure to choose the right time beforehand and adjust your wedding photography lighting to create a pleasant composition.
In the era of expats, you should understand that although most wedding traditions resemble each other, it is quite common to face some customs that vary across cultures and are expected to be captured. In most traditions, events like the grand entrance or first dance, speeches and toasts or even cake-cutting are important. At the same time, there some others that are considered to be special; for example, Jewish reception photographs should include the blessing of the challah bread and the hora dance. Chinese weddings never go without a Chinese Lion Dance, and capturing the performance of the professional dancers at Hindu wedding receptions is also a must.
The simplicity of the "grand exit" series is deceptive. There are numerous scenarios for this action; we`d recommend agreeing on the optimal version with the coordinator beforehand. Whether a couple prefers creative options like petal tosses, sparklers, or something more discreet as the type of exit, you must discuss the optimal positions and timing for the newlyweds and guests with the planner long before the wedding reception day. Be ready for the challenge if you happen to take wedding receptions photos with hundreds of guests involved. In this case, profound planning and support from the wedding coordinator will help you succeed.
Even though the reception vendors try their best, you usually have a very small timeframe to take wedding reception photographs of the décor before the guests are let into the room and chaos takes over. Thankfully, there’s a way out that allows you to capture the entire venue in an efficient way.
If at least a single table is prepared in the reception room, focus on capturing the smaller objects first: seating cards, silverware, bonbonnieres, etc. As the vendors finish up preparing the venue, you can include wider scenes and take reception photographs of entire sections of the room. If the venue is ready by the time you arrive, begin with broad pictures and finish up with the details on the table. This protects you from being bothered by guests once they enter the room.
Prepare yourself for unpredictable situations at seemingly familiar locations. Take responsibility, prepare, and adapt. In general, wedding receptions lighting problems are usually complicated and arise despite all the preparations. Prepare flash stands in standby mode in distant corners of the hall for the backup balance of the light, or use them for the backlight for better performance during shooting. We'd recommend raising them to the six-feet level so that no sharp shadows line around seated guests. Use light zooming, and avoid any light spill.
It is a basic rule to follow the temperature of the light to create natural wedding reception photographs. Messing with this advice leads to dull colors and distorted skin tones in wedding photos, so make sure to match on-camera and off-camera flashes before turning to the actual reception lighting. Follow the temperature of natural light in the room and adjust your Custom Color Temperature camera settings to ensure great results.
Remember to control every detail as it is the right way to get the best wedding reception photographs. That’s why it is advisable to collaborate with the DJ as well. He/she is responsible for the music and lights during key events like the grand entrance, first dance, and other significant activities you are to capture. Prepare everything in advance so you don’t have to worry about them while shooting.
After setting your off-camera flashes, remember to mark the position for your models to get optimal light.
Affordable diode light strips can form adjustable bokeh and add romance notes to your shots taken at night.
Any good wedding photography guide will tell you that it’s preferable to take this picture as soon as you have the chance, since once guests start pouring in, you’ll never have a nice, clean shot of the room.
Focusing on Symmetry – In this kind of reception photo, either the dance floor or the newlyweds’ table becomes the central object as I try to capture as much of the room as possible.
Focusing on the Foreground – Alternatively, you can find the focus for a wedding reception photo either on the cake or a floral centerpiece and adapt the rest of the composition accordingly.
The best way to take full venue pictures is to use a tripod while having the lowest ISO setting and shutter speed. This allows blurring out any guests that might be moving around the room. You can use your knowledge of wedding photography lighting as well as adjust the aperture to negate the slow shutter speed.
You should always take this picture before the guests arrive. If some of them are already missing from the table, use zoom and capture an unmoved part of the arrangement.
Step away and take a picture of the whole table. Once more, if any unnecessary objects are getting in the way, remove them. Strive to find an angle that adds depth to the image. For instance, you can use the centerpiece as a leading line or take advantage of the wedding receptions lighting.
Use the same technique as with the guests’ tables, beginning with smaller objects on the plates and slowly increasing the frame until it incorporates the whole table. Also, be sure to capture the best wedding reception decorations such as the “Mr. and Mrs.” signs, etc.
Since the cake is usually located in a corner of the venue, it’s safe to place this shot at the end of your wedding reception photographs list. Even if the guests walk all around the room, you can still take a photo of the cake without anyone getting in your way.
If you want to make the cake photo more creative, find several suitable objects in the venue to shoot through in order to frame the cake. View more creative wedding cake photography ideas.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.