How To Get Great Wedding Reception Lighting For Your Wedding Photos

Posted by Atrero Photography on March 24th 2012 .Comment(14)

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How to Get Great Wedding Reception Lighting For Your Wedding Photos


Wedding reception lighting is an important consideration for couples that are getting married at an indoor venue, at night, or both! Lighting is an important factor for setting the atmosphere and expectation for your guests of the great party that lays ahead. Once of the most unflattering light is overhead fluorescent lighting found in some venues. It’s worth spending the time to research if your venue, DJ, event rental company, or lighting specialist can provide lighting for your event.

LED Lighting

Newer low powered LED uplighting is the way to go these days. Many LED uplights are able to synchronize with the DJ’s music like the ones found at night clubs or concerts. Unlike older incandescent uplighting, LED uplighting can be controlled to change color. So at different portions of the reception, you can transition the lighting to suit the mood. For example, your first dance could be a subdued cooler color, and then during open dancing on a packed dance floor the cooler could be warmer intense. Some venues, such as 7 Degrees in Laguna Beach, California, are equipped with modern stage lighting throughout the reception area and can be controlled much like you would see at a live concert.

Hey, I’m Didn’t Get Married in a Cave!

An experienced wedding photographer will be able to balance the ambient lighting of the venue with camera flash directed on to the subject. Bad reception photos will often look as if your reception took place in a dark cave and show none of hard work that went into designing the ambiance of the event. It’s important to review your photographer’s portfolio or ask he or she to show you reception photos to make sure they are experienced with taking well lit photos in low light.

Death by Laser

Lastly, another important consideration is find out if your DJ, band, or lighting specialist is using laser lighting. Nothing looks more distracting than seeing a green laser dot on the bride or groom’s face in their “First Dance” photos. These laser spots can often be fixed in Photoshop, but may take some time to fix (read: $$$). It’s best to check with your photographer. From personal experience, it can take an hour or more fixing unflattering green/red/blue laser spots on a couple’s faces for a first dance photo. Laser lights can be a great visual effect, but ask your DJ or lighting specialist to save that for later when the dance floor is packed.

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San Diego, California Photographer N/A

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Ed Atrero

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Rocha Fotografía September 5th 2014 at 09:59 AM

La decoración es realmente hermosa. Elegante y muy sobria. Felicitaciones.

Michel Jones January 29th 2014 at 10:48 PM

Such a nice clicks!!! You are right, lighting is most important factor in the photography. The quality of click is depend upon the effect of light.

Paola June 17th 2013 at 10:15 PM

I love the green light!

Sito wordpress June 17th 2013 at 10:13 PM

I love the way you see through your camera

Wedding Planner Sardinia June 17th 2013 at 10:12 PM

The First Photo is absolutely AMAZING!!!

Stephen Williams February 2nd 2013 at 06:30 AM

Thanks for the tips. Also important information here for prospective clients needing to know which questions to ask a photographer they’re thinking of hiring.

Atrero Photography August 8th 2012 at 07:08 PM

Hi Robin, another great way to deal with DJ lights is to shoot into it. Usually the worse of the lights (bright lasers) are setup near the DJ. If you shoot into the direction where the lights are coming from, the offending LED patterns will project on the other side of the subject and thus are not a problem. It also provides an interesting light to work with. :)

Robin Groenevelt July 31st 2012 at 04:05 PM

Nice tips, thank you! I have on occasion been bumping into DJs the last year that have an array of LED lights which they use to flood the dance floor, sometimes with no other light source at all (especially outdoor weddings). Cameras unfortunately can’t deal with this yet as pictures easily gets overexposed on a single, mono-chrome color. Faces get washed out in blue, green, red, yellow, cyan, or magenta, and contain no depth in them. Just an outline of the face remains. I’ve tried many things: – Underexposing the image. This doesn’t always work as there sometimes isn’t enough light (I live on the Cote d’Azur and have quite a few wedding outside) – Adding flashes: This only works if the subjects are 1-2 meters from a flash. I’ve been competing with LED arrays 3 meters long. Speedlights aren’t powerful enough to compete with that. – Adding gels on flashes to add the opposite color(s): This only works if there’s just a single color of the LED array (which hasn’t been the case so far). – Post processing: This helps a little, but it doesn’t get close to a satisfactory result. So far my best solution has been to add flashes all around the perimeter of the enlightened area, one on my flash, a second flash in my hand, and take pictures of subjects not too far from any of my flashes (i.e. sticking to the outer areas of the dance floor). Some shots can be taken with a flash on a camera stuck to a monopod and remotely triggering it when holding it (close) above a group of people, but you don’t want to be doing this all evening long. The solutions of asking the DJ to stop using those lights and/or to add a permanent strong light (which destroys the atmosphere are not solution for me. Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how else to cope with these lamps?

Mark Andrew Gonzales April 6th 2012 at 09:49 PM

Took Ed’s “Light Like A Ninja Workshop” it’s a MUST for all those curious about lighting!

Mohaimen Kazi Photography April 4th 2012 at 11:37 AM

Some great shots! Very inspiring stuff!

wedding reception lighting March 27th 2012 at 11:26 AM

Great work, nice pics, that mirrored ceiling is crazy.

Otto Haring - Miami March 26th 2012 at 04:15 PM

You are totally right. It takes so long to fix the red-green spots. It happened to me a few times during speeches and first dance..

Ed Atrero March 25th 2012 at 06:25 PM

Thank you Cindy!

Cindy March 25th 2012 at 05:57 PM

Great tips for the brides!!

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