One of the surest ways to impress your engagement photography clients is to create dynamic images for them using flash photography. When your clients realize your ability to visualize and capture different scenes in unique ways, the experience will transform them from clients into fans. If you’re unfamiliar with flash photography, fear not. We’ve put together a list of our favorite dynamic lighting setups for engagement photography that you can put to use right away. These setups draw from a range of techniques, using everything from one light source to multiple lights. Join us behind the scenes as we break down the process for these dynamic lighting setups into easy-to-use recipes, with notes on composition, exposure settings, flash power, lighting modifiers, and more.

Let’s dive in!

Video: Five Dynamic Lighting Setups for Engagement Photography

Gear Checklist

Here’s a list of the gear used in the dynamic lighting setups below:

C.A.M.P. Framework

As we often do, we’ve used the C.A.M.P. Framework (Composition, Ambient Exposure, Modify/Add Light, Pose & Photo Capture) to create the shots that follow. We recommend using this framework in an effort to shoot intentionally and consistently for all of your sessions.

Dynamic Lighting Setup #1: “The One”

Our first dynamic lighting setup uses a single light source to produce dramatic results. Check out this free Lighting Guide to find these setups and more in even more detail.


Walk-up, point-and-shoot shot (left) vs a composed shot (right)

The first step of the C.A.M.P. Framework requires that you start with composing your shot. The palm trees in the background make great compositional elements in this scene, not to mention effective leading lines. Place the couple in the middle, shoot from a lower angle, and the composition is set.

Ambient Exposure

ambient exposure for dynamic lighting setup one
28-70mm at 28mm, 1/200, f/14, ISO 50

After composing the shot, you’ll need to decide on the ambient exposure. If you intend to create a dramatic shot, like the one demonstrated via this technique, then the ambient exposure will land on the darker side.

Add and/or Modify Light

In addition to lowering the ambient exposure in-camera, you’ll need to add flash to create the dramatic look you’re after. For this shot, we used the Profoto B10+ (with 500 watt seconds of power). If you don’t have a Profoto B10+, use the flashes you have.

Place the flash 5-10 feet off to the side of the couple at a 45-degree angle. Elevate the light so that it sits higher than the couple. Reference the image above.

After setting up the light, you can modify it. We added a MagMod Reflector XL to help control and diffuse the light. Next, we added a MagSphere XL to further diffuse the light and reduce its specularity.

Pose & Photograph

final image for dynamic lighting setup
Final Image: 1/200, f/11, ISO 50, Full Flash Power (1/1 or 500 Watt Seconds)

For the final step in the framework, just pose and photograph your subjects. Direct them into different poses and capture multiple shots. Make adjustments to your previous settings if necessary.

Dynamic Lighting Setup #2: The Explosion

We call the second dynamic lighting setup on our list “The Explosion.” In the free Lighting Guide, it is listed as the Stadium Light recipe. Basically, this is a setup you can use to capture a silhouette shot that works well when the scene otherwise doesn’t have much to offer.


28-70mm at 55mm, 1/400, f/2, ISO 50

The wall at the location pictured above features a somewhat constant pattern on the wall, which we can take advantage of for this setup. Patterns on walls like this make great backdrops for silhouette portraits.

Ambient Exposure

After deciding on your composition, set your ambient exposure settings. Because it’s a silhouette shot, keep the ambient exposure dark.

Add and/or Modify Light

In order to create a silhouette, we’ll need to add light. We’ve placed the light directly behind our subjects, just above hip-high. The light, modified with the Reflector XL, is aimed at the wall at an upward angle to make the background brighter around the couple and create the silhouette.

1/200, f/14, ISO 50, Full Flash Power (1/1 or 500 Watt Seconds)

Here’s a look at the results thus far, straight out of camera. The tree pattern that you see popped up when the sun shined through some trees behind the camera. Fortunately, the shadows do a great job of adding extra depth to the scene.

Pose & Photograph

final image for dynamic lighting setup
Final Image: 1/200, f/14, ISO 50, Full Flash Power (1/1 or 500 Watt Seconds)

As far as posing goes, silhouette portraits typically work best with profile poses like the one pictured above, but of course you’re welcome to play around with different poses and crops.

Lighting Setup #3: “Stadium” Modified (or Hollywood Two-Light)

Here, we present a modified version of the “Stadium” recipe that you can find in the free Lighting Guide. We also call this a “Hollywood Two-Light” setup. Of the setups on this list, this is one of the more complex options.


The basic composition will feature two subjects standing back-to-back in the center of the frame with a spherical fountain in the background. We’ve asked the subjects to hold hands, which you can choose to do or not, but the direction of their gaze plays into the lighting. You’ll notice that they’re looking down towards their respective sides, and the shot wouldn’t work as well if they weren’t looking in that specific direction.

Add/Modify Light

As noted, it’s a two-light setup, so we’ve placed two flashes slightly behind our subjects and off to the sides at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position relative to the camera’s location.

The light on the male subject’s side is a Profoto B10 with a MagMod Reflector XL. It is aimed directly towards the male subject. From this position, and because of how the subject is posed, the light will create a Rembrandt light pattern on the subject. The same goes for the subject on the opposite side of the frame. It’s worth noting that the sun is on the male subject’s side, making it slightly brighter, so we used a (slightly more powerful) Profoto B10+ on the female subject’s side to balance out the lighting in the scene.

Here’s a look at the test shot.

1/200, f/11, ISO 50, Full Flash Power

While almost everything is working out thus far, the strobes are creating reflections on the sphere. This means we’ll need to modify the light that we’ve added to the scene.

Ambient + Added Modified Light

To get rid of the reflections on the sphere, we placed a MagGrid XL 40 on each strobe. These 40-degree grids help minimize light spill. They also take away some of the flash power, so be sure to adjust your exposure. In this instance, we boosted our ISO from ISO 50 to ISO 100.

If you want to get even more creative, you can add color gels to the flashes. If you’re doing this midday, however, know that the gels will also take away some of your flash power.

Pose and Photograph

Final Image: 1/200, f/11, ISO 100, Full Flash Power

Lighting Setup #4: Pin Light

In this scenario, we’ll use a grid to create a pin light. Pin lights allow us to light our subjects without inadvertently lighting the entire scene. If you’re shooting wider shots and have some distance between you and the subjects, this setup is a great go-to.


The composition for this shot will focus on using a tree in the foreground to frame the subjects.

Ambient Exposure

1/800, f/2.8, ISO 100

Set your ambient exposure as you see fit. We’re going for a more dramatic look, so our in-camera exposure will fall on the darker side.

Add/Modify Light

Speaking of drama, we’ll need to add light to make the scene look more dramatic. For this shot, we’ve placed the strobe off to the side of the frame and positioned it so that it sits higher than the subjects.

spilled light for dynamic lighting setup
1/800, f/2.8, ISO 100, Full Flash Power

Here’s a quick look at the scene when it’s lit without using a grid. The light is spilling onto the wall and creating a distraction from our subjects.

To fix this issue, we’ll use the pin light technique and add a grid. In this case, the MagGrid XL 40 in combination with the MagMod Reflector XL works beautifully.

grid solves dynamic lighting issue
Final Image: 1/800, f/2.8, ISO 100, Full Flash Power with Grid

Thanks to these quick and easy light modifications, we’re able to remove the reflection on the wall.

Pose and Photograph

Like always, work through some different poses to maximize this setup and create a variety of portraits.

Lighting Setup #5: Rainmaker

We call the last lighting setup for this collection the “rainmaker.” Despite its name, the “rainmaker” is actually a simple technique to use. Really, all we want to do is add a warm backlight.

Composition and Ambient Exposure

This is another situation in which you want to find a solid backdrop, ideally one that is dark or can be made to look dark based on your in-camera exposure. If the backdrop isn’t dark, the backlight technique will be less effective.

Add/Modify Light

Look at the image above to see how we’ve positioned and modified the Profoto B10 (with a MagMod Reflector XL, CTO Dome Gel, and MagSphere XL), raising it to hip-height, just behind the subjects, pointed up towards their faces. This combination of modifiers will help the light bloom around our subjects.

Pose and Photograph

We placed the couple into a closed pose, in which they face each other from a close distance. See the test shot below, in which we cropped the frame somewhat tightly.

tight crop example for dynamic lighting setup
1/200, f/5.6, ISO 100, Full Flash Power

When the light and poses are working the way you want them, experiment with shooting from different angles and perspectives.

pose and perspective variation for dynamic lighting setup
1/200, f/5.6, ISO 100, Full Flash Power
simple variation for dynamic lighting setup
1/200, f/5.6, ISO 100, Full Flash Power


We hope you enjoyed these five dynamic lighting setups for engagement photography. Use the tips and techniques listed above, as well as the recipes from our free Lighting Guide, to elevate your engagement photography skills and wow your clients on your next shoot.