Using video lights for creative photography

I mentioned awhile back how the first dance and some of the dancing at a wedding as one of my favorite times to shoot (creative wedding reception lighting article here). The reason is with a nice dark dance floor is the the perfect opportunity to get creative with lighting. One thing that I love to do is use the videographers light backlighting the bride and groom to create a cool light. Sometimes it is just a backlight for the effect and I still will use my flash as the main light, other times I will use it as a dramatic side light with no other flash. It really depends on the effect I am going for and how much ambient light I have to deal with. Here are a few images from a recent shoot where I used the videographers light for a nice effect.

The first shot my flash was turned off and I only used the room light for my main light. With the ISO of the 5d I can shoot at ISO 1000 or above and still get a good file and I usually shoot these at f/2.8 or lower so don’t need a ton of light to get my subjects exposed. I always figure out my exposure before the dancing starts (at the middle of the dance floor) and set my exposure to manual. Then i’ll shoot some frames with the videographer in a different part of the shot. I might have their light right in between the couple or barely on the side of one of their heads or even totally to the side. Each spot the light is at will have a pretty big difference on the effect of the light so experiment. But remember to experiment after you get the shot nailed, first get the good shot you know your client will want. Then have fun!
creative photo lighting tips

Sometimes I’ll have my external flash units on and just use the video light as a little accent behind them or on the side. That is what I did here, I framed the videographer in just to add a extra dynamic to the shot. The subjects will be exposed perfect from your main flash and the video light just adds a visual element to the shot.
creative photo lighting tips

And this final example is another one with no flash at all, just exposed properly for the subject and then framing the video light in between them.
creative photo lighting tips

Have a dance shot you love? Post a link to it in the Facebook comments section below.

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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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