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Lighting Techniques For Miscellaneous Reception Portraits

When photographing wedding receptions, even the downtime should be spent capturing candids and grip-and-grin portraits. The focus should be on VIPs, such as the bride and groom’s parents, other family members, or close friends. One of the best ways to do this is by following either the bride or groom (or the parents) around the room and capturing images as they interact with reception guests.

The lighting for these images should be clean and simple because you’ll be on the move for the most part. In this scenario, we recommend bounce lighting if possible (a neutral-color ceiling is needed, or something else to bounce light off).

Whenever possible, you can also use diffused OCF by shooting through an umbrella or softbox. This usually requires a little more planning and a stationary post (as opposed to walking around). Place the light source on one side of the group (see diagram) and direct it toward the person farthest from the light source to feather the light more evenly.

TIP: If you’re capturing groups sitting around a table, ask half of the table’s occupants (ideally the younger, more mobile guests) to stand and walk around the backside of the other seated guests, in essence creating a second row in the group photo. If there’s a large centerpiece in the way, you can either ask the coordinator’s assistant to move the centerpiece, or you can find an angle to shoot around it.