Creative off camera lighting

At every shoot I have I always try to do something different. Normally once the dancing has been going on for awhile its a perfect time to give the bride and groom a break and take them outside for a quick shoot. It also normally is nighttime so the perfect opportunity to get some amazing images. At a recent wedding I wanted to get a night photo of the bride and groom underneath a tree that was nearby. I thought I could have one light on them and then place 2 lights on each side of this tree cross lighting it to give some cool dimension to the tree and leaves.

Well as things never turn out the way you want them during a wedding one of my pocketwizards wasn’t in the bag I had with me but far away in my other bag. So I was stuck with only 2 lights and trying to do something cool to the tree with just 1 light wasn’t working right. I could try to light it somewhat from the front but that would have been flat and boring. I could have a dramatic side light on the tree but then the other 1/2 of the tree would be in total darkness, could have some possibilities but I really wasn’t feeling it. With the fast pace of a wedding this happens a lot, you get an idea in your mind and then for whatever reason that exact idea doesn’t work out. So I took a few minutes and just walked around this little area for ideas, I try to slow down a bit and really look hard at my surroundings. I picked this tree because it was close by and we didn’t have much time and also I liked the really cool braiding of the trunk. Then it hit me, the middle of the trunk was hollow so I could put the light in there and make it glow from the inside.

In the end it’s not the crazy, best image I was hoping for but it’s different. Looking at the shot now I am not too fond of the composition and would have moved them more to the right of the tree and shot from a slightly different angle. But it’s a shot you normally don’t see, it’s different and shows your clients that you can think creatively. Images like this are what makes your clients love you even more and also spread the word about you, they will tell their friends ‘Mark got this great shot with a light in the tree’ and remember the experience so much more.

Photography is a journey, keep exploring, keep trying to think new and creative every day. It’s a journey that I love and will always look for ways to keep improving my art and my vision one lesson at a time.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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  1. If I’m not speaking out of turn, the images is great, however a little cropping may help, the light on the right is distracting.

  2. Thanks for the great tips!

  3. To quote you:

    “Photography is a journey, keep exploring, keep trying to think new and creative every day”

    I believe that once we stop learning, being creative and going for the gusto we better stop being photographers’. It is a Continuous Learning experience, with progress being made each and every day in the land of Digital, and you have to keep up with the flow.

    I am, Who I am, and LOVE what I do, and I have no particular venue in photography but what I do have is a passion for everything I capture, I have learned also that what is your poison is someone else’s treasure especially in photography, everyone has opinions, just be true to who you are.

    I would like to mention that I am happy to have found Digital Photo Buzz very cool site with lots of great hints and tips.

    Donna P.


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