Creating amazing wedding photographs using off camera flash

Recently we were contacted by Elizabeth Kate Bridal to photograph a styled shoot with an incredible team and the photographs were to be used to advertise and show off the amazing wedding dresses they have in stock.

The brief was to produce photographs that grab the attention of the viewer, that would look right at home in a wedding album, yet have the commercial and editorial vibe often seen in bridal magazines.

We had one location from the outset - Spurn Point on the beach, shooting with a high fashion yet boho feel - however, on the way home, we found the most amazing church in Patrington, St Patricks church, and thankfully we were given permission to shoot in the grounds, but also inside.

As most photographers will tell you, once we saw it we knew exactly what we would like to do - taking stock of your environment is always important - where is the light, what direction, where do the shadows fall, are there any potential issues or any potential benefits.

So with that in mind we figure a ‘How it was shot’ blog post is in order! After all, photographers are professional problem solvers right? So, let’s take a look at the environment.

Hull wedding photographer

Nearing the end of the day the light was starting to drop, so we had two options - we could shoot using natural light with a high ISO, but that wouldn’t really fit the brief right?

Work with what you have

We spotted the pocket of light flowing through the window to the back at the right of the scene, giving the ornate carvings depth but also providing our models with a nice little backlight along the hair and shoulders, so let’s think of the window light as light number one.

Gear - whats in the bag?

Equipment wise we shoot with our trusty Fujifilm cameras and a bunch of vintage manual focus lenses, but with the magic of mirrorless they are easy to use.

One Pixapro Pika200, a nice compact and light weight portable flash unit with plenty of oomph, and to compliment this we also had a 20 inch collapsible beauty dish - perfect for lighting one or two people while producing nice, punchy and contrast rich light.

How we shot it

Remember that lovely ambient light from earlier, and the importance of using what you have available? With that in mind we bumped the ISO to 400 , allowing that subtle light to provide a backlight to our model and background details.

Now to create that showstopping look, we close down our aperture to F11 and our shutter speed to 1/180 of a second, now everything through the viewfinder is dark except for that subtle backlight, but that’s no good if we can’t see our model’s face, right?

Now comes the flash!

We use the flash to expose for our subject, since we already have our ambient environment how we like it - if you are unsure about power settings, start low and work up - for this shot we were at 1/4 power.

Positioning the light!

For these photographs we wanted a classical painting kind of vibe, so who comes to mind when you think of beautiful classical portrait paintings? Rembrandt, right?

We position the light at a 45 degree angle from the model, tilted down again at 45 degrees, wrapping the subject in directional light, giving definition, depth and shadow - don’t be afraid of shadows, they are your friend - nobody likes a flat looking photograph!

Now with our model perfectly positioned between these two pockets of light, we take the shot…

Lincolnshire wedding photohrapher

To view the dresses featured in our shoot and more stunning bridalwear, with the most amazing customer service you could imagine, head over to Elizabeth Kate Bridal