Indoor Scenes | Reception: Direct Lighting Shot with Flash or Constant Lights

If you find yourself photographing an indoor reception or event with a high or darkly colored ceiling, or outdoors in the evening with no ceiling at all, then chances are you’ll need to use direct flash. Otherwise, if the ceiling has a red color and you bounce light off of it, the color will impact the appearance of your subject. Black ceilings will soak the light up altogether.

It is important to note that direct flash does not necessarily mean on-camera flash. Using direct off-camera flash will allow you to photograph your subjects from a wider variety of angles. Place the flash or multiple flashes wherever you like, such as on the couple or the speaker if photographing a toast, but use grids when necessary to avoid spilling light throughout the scene. Also, if multiple shooters are covering the event, try to place the light stands discreetly so that they will not appear in images shot from other angles.

Our approach to photographing receptions or events with direct flash:

  • Expose for ambient light
  • Add off-camera flash
  • Flash gel (to match dominant light)
  • Control modifier (grid)
  • Aim towards subject
  • Use secondary if needed
  • Highlight alert is critical

Exposure goals for photographing receptions or events with direct flash:

  • Maximum dynamic range
  • Bias: preserve shadows
  • Temperature: 3200-4000K