FAQ : Off Camera Lighting at Wedding Receptions

FAQ : Off Camera Lighting at Wedding Receptions


This past week I was contacted by Nate at Photoflex inquiring about a link I posted on my blog a while ago. At first I had no clue what his email referred to, but after a little research, I realized I posted a blog entry back in 2007 about my off-camera light set up for receptions. When I went back to this post, it brought back so many warm memories…the photos were from my first year as a wedding photographer and experimenting with off-camera flash for receptions. I learned so much about myself and the type of light I prefer, so I thought I’d update my previous post a bit…

I’m still using the same light setup, so here’s what it looks like:

It’s comprised of:
*A Photoflex Small LiteDome soft box (16″x22″)
*A light stand
***You can find a my entire set up on this page of Photoflex.com
*Pocket Wizards (with one attached on the lightstand itself, and one mounted on my camera)
*Sunpak Auto 383 Super Flash

I also use a Canon 580EX Speedlight on my camera, so I love when I can capture a subject backlight or with a little rim lighting…. Here are a few recent photos using off-camera flash during wedding receptions to illustrate its affect on my photos…

In the following two photos, the light was set to camera left, behind one of the band’s speakers…

The off camera light was placed to camera left about 15-feet from the subjects, and pointed toward the guests, and I used on-camera flash to illuminate the the bride and groom…

Off-camera light was placed to camera right and my on-camera flash was bounced from the ceiling….

Off-camera light was placed behind a pillar to camera right, about 15-feet from the bride and groom…

Off-camera light was placed behind a pillar, and in this photo, the light is directly behind the bride…

The off-camera light wasn’t moved from its location (behind the pillar) for the ceremony and reception, so you can see how it can achieve two very different looks…

Off-camera light was placed adjacent to the DJ’s speaker to camera right

Off-camera light was placed behind the camera, and no on-camera flash was used…

Off-camera light was placed 15-feet away from subjects (and guests) to camera right, and on-camera flash was bounced using a white bounce card…

I know this post might have been repetitive, but seeing how the other post is two years old, I thought it’d be cool to revisit the topic….if it bored you, please forgive me. Tomorrow I have something else in store, but thanks for stopping by anyway! πŸ˜‰

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  1. Jaleen

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you so much for explaining this Jasmine. I am on the search for lighting right now and I had no idea where to start or where to be placing lights. I love that you are so willing to teach and share.

  2. Kionda

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Beautiful pics!

  3. Dawn Beirnes

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I loved it! I’m about to attempt my first practice photo shoot (of my 3 dogs no less), so I LOVED this post! I’ll be doing it in the garage, but I’m excited about it anyway!

  4. michelle leigh

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    soooo wish you had photographed my wedding seven years ago…or that I had read this before I shot my first wedding…..3 months ago. your work is gorgeous as always.

  5. Jenna

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Wow great post! I am curious if this set up is cumbersome or gets in the way or gets in shots at times?

  6. Andrew Zelinko

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    THis is aswesome, and I was wanting to ask this a long time ago, thank you sooo much! I had other questions in regards to do guests seem to mind? or get annoyed at a giant flash box. Do you ever use it outside for family portraits etc? I could go on and on, but thank you i really LOVE these FAQ posts!!!!

  7. Jackie Beale

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    This was so helpful Jasmine, seriously. And such right timiming for me as I’ve been researching to buy some off camera lighting equipment to start the new year off with πŸ™‚ Thank you so much!

  8. Angela Smith

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing as openly as you do. I love your FAQ posts almost as much as I adore your work!

  9. Amanda Young

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Nope. Not boring at all. In fact, it’s fascinating to hear how photographers do the off-camera flash thing. Everyone seems to do things a little differently but, of course, your results are stunning. Did you learn by trial-and-error or have someone teach you?

  10. Mapuana

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I’m totally lost when it comes to lighting.

  11. Jessica Fike

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks so much for this post! Again, I am inspired and may need to consider some off-camera lighting for myself. Your techniques are very helpful!

  12. Sandy

    December 3rd, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Never boring Jasmine. It’s almost (eerily) perfectly timed by my perspective. ( :

  13. kristy Cefalo

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Thank you. I have been thinking of bringing a soft box to receptions for a while. These all look so amazing. I am sold.

  14. crystal

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Hey Jaz- What do you use for indoors "traditional" photography in churches? Any suggestions?

  15. LEOLAK

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    No way was this boring! Thank you so much for sharing all that you do! I seriously am addicted to your site, and I don’t even shoot wedding photography. You are definitely an inspiration and certainly helping me wanting to achieve more in my work! Thanks for ROCKING IT!

  16. Robin

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I’m not sure how to attach my pocket wizard -and- my 580 flash to my camera at the same time… Is that what you’re doing, or did I misread?

  17. Elisabeth Carol

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Great post!! How do you get it to look so natural? I try hard not to use flash because I don’t like how it looks like you used flash. hmm.

  18. Annette Whelan

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I love learning more about off camera lighting. I think this subject is intimidating for many photographers who prefer natural light. It’s great to know that you can do so much with just one light and some creativity! Great blog post!

  19. Jessica Nichols

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    So, this is no lie, I just emailed one of my photographer friends this morning to ask her about off camera lighting, as I am getting ready to take the plunge… and then you… my FAVORITE photographer go and post an FAQ post about it! Perfect! Thank you SO much for these posts. You’re the best (and i sure hope I get to hire you when I get married…)

  20. Danielle

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Does anyone ever take pictures from the background of what it all looks like, you in action with your lighting setup?

  21. Ginger Murray

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    I think most photographers will agree that learning lighting is some of the toughest stuff we have to do– so many ways to do it. I am always hoping to improve my lighting skills and knowledge– this was a very helpful post– thank you!

  22. Sarah Boutwell

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks for posting this Jasmine! My husband and I have been going back and forth about what lighting to purchase…how much it will cost…wanting to make sure we make a good investment…making sure we don’t make a purchase that will need to be replaced in one year. Your images are always so beautifully lit. {I know that has much more to do with your talent and your knowledge of light, but it’s still nice to see how you get there!} Thanks!

  23. Jasmine*

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    @Robin: I have a mount at the bottom of my for my pocket wizard, which allows me to simultaneously use my flash. @Crystal: For traditional churches, I just use my on-camera flash, or no flash at all, depending on their restrictions. @Amanda: I originally saw Jessica Claire use this light set-up, but as far as learning goes, it was ALL trial and error…which was both awesome and awful at the same time! πŸ˜‰ @Andrew: Guests don’t notice the softbox because it’s really small…it’s only appx two feet wide. I can easily hide it, so it works rather well for me! But, no, I don’t use it outside. @Jenna: It’s not cumbersome at all and I’ve trained myself to shoot and avoid the light if I think it’s distracting. Thanks, friends! πŸ™‚

  24. Geoff Heith

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks so much for this that’s great!!

  25. shannon

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    this post is actually extremely informative. i’ve been doing my reception lighting similarly, but it’s great to see the variation in your shots and the ideas you’ve gotten about different sets up and such. plus, it’s always awesome to see the exact lighting equip a great photog is using.

  26. Jacqueline

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Jasmine, I know you hear this all the time but you are awesome!! I am curious if you use a flash bracket?!?!

  27. Chris

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    How does your off-camera flash fire if you have a flash mounted on-camera? Are you using a different pocketwizard on camera or is it infrared? Thanks!

  28. Jamie

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing! I loved your original post and thank you for including the pictures to demonstrate where you place the softbox. This is super helpful! Do you ever have to replace the batteries in the off-camera flash, or do you find that it lasts you the entire reception?

  29. Marco Markovich

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Jasmine, these are great but would you mind sharing your exposure and flash settings. I love how your light is so subtle.

  30. Samantha Meyer

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I LOVE your FAQ posts… they keep me motivated to try new things and step out of my boundary box!! πŸ™‚

  31. Cindy Shaver

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Do you mind sharing the settings for the OCF and the 580? Is the 580 in ettl?

  32. Sharon

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Jasmine, Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us :). I have pocket wizards but sometimes my off camera flash doesn’t go off every time…do you use a battery pack?

  33. Libertad

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    This is SO helpful Jasmine. We are also looking into purchasing off camera lighting and did not know where to start or how to place it, etc! Thank you for being so giving, you don’t know how much it helps. You are a rock star!

  34. Patt Mustain

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    You are so kind to share so much! There are few like you. The love of Jesus shines in you like you may not know. This post is wonderfully helpful!
    Blessings, Patti

  35. Emily Steffen

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    You are a rockstar and I am oh-so thankful that you post little diddys like this! πŸ™‚

    I love you Mrs. Jasmine Star! πŸ™‚

  36. Melinda

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I love posts like this! Your photo recipes are so helpful for me to understand how a particular look is achieved. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I love the looks you achieve.

  37. s h e r r y

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Jasmine! Off camera lighting is one thing I really hope to improve upon in this next year…

  38. Lorrie Prothero

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I have been searching all over for just this. what powers are you using what flash setting?

  39. Gina K

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks for posting this!! I am just experimenting with off camera light and this was perfect!!!

  40. Brandon M Sweet

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Didn’t bore me at all! I have really been thinking about going into some off camera lighting for my Reception shots. So far I have only used on camera bounced flash! Thanks for the Tips Jasmine!

    Have a nice day,

    -Brandon M Sweet

  41. Jennifer Brotchie

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    So coincidental you post this today..I forwarded the original post to my husband this morning since we are looking to purchase the set up, and then you go and post your set up… brilliant! Thank you Jasmine!!

  42. Jess

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    I made a resolution to improve my reception shots next year so it’s fantastic to get this sort of info and inspiration. This has just made me more excited to get out there and try some different stuff! You’re a gem Jasmine πŸ™‚

  43. jen

    December 3rd, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks for the lighting post- it is very helpful…. I just bought my first light stand!! I am looking fwd to trying some of these:)

  44. Abby

    December 4th, 2009 at 12:04 am

    What do you typically set your ISO at during the dark part of reception?

  45. Abby

    December 4th, 2009 at 12:06 am

    P.S. I love this… receptions are the hardest for me to shoot since most people like it pitch black in the room. Ha!

    Huge fan!!! Keep rockin’ it!

  46. Inland Empire Wedding Photographer

    December 4th, 2009 at 12:21 am

    thank-you so much, i cant wait till i start practicing these tips~

  47. Lisa H. Chang

    December 4th, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Thank you! I’d seen the 2007 post before and remembered wanting to know more, so this really helps! I have a question: Do clients know about your lighting set up? I’m wondering if they’re ever bothered (or even notice) the flash.

  48. Melissa

    December 4th, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Thanks for this post Jasmine – off camera lighting is something I have yet to master, so I appreciate how you break it down nice and simple.

  49. gina

    December 4th, 2009 at 12:56 am

    love these posts when you share "how you do it"

  50. Amanda Basteen

    December 4th, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Thanks for posting this Jasmine! πŸ™‚ Off camera lighting is something I need to play with..does your husband do the moving it around for you? Or do you grab it real quick yourself? I really need some pocket wizards and I am nervous to figure it out, but like you said it’s all trial and error! Anyway, thanks again. As always, I love your work! πŸ™‚

  51. Ashley

    December 4th, 2009 at 1:15 am

    I love how you explained where the off camera flash was for each situation! Super helpful Jasmine!

  52. Angel Canary

    December 4th, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Thank you for this. I use a set up the same, except I add one more light. The problem I have is that with the 5Dmark ii my pocket wizard won’t work so I am forced to use the on camera flash as a master and others as a slave, ettl, not manual. Maybe your friend can leave a comment and help a sista out.

  53. jenn king

    December 4th, 2009 at 1:30 am

    thank you thank you thank you! so helpful. your generosity astounds me!

  54. Elaine Gardner

    December 4th, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Thanks for bringing this up again! Do you move your light around much during the reception? About how high up do you have the light?
    Ps. Can’t wait for your platform at WPPI! Wish you had a Plus class or a Master class : (

  55. Marjorie Preval

    December 4th, 2009 at 1:50 am

    I’ve always wondered. Great insight before I take my on location lighting at school! Thanks a million!!!

  56. Cat Logan

    December 4th, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Absolutely loved it! I need to learn so much about lighting for receptions, and lighting in general. Do you usually use on camera flash in conjunction with the off camera flash? Would you say you do that more than not using the on camera flash?

  57. Ashley

    December 4th, 2009 at 2:03 am

    This is one thing that I would really like to learn more about. Off camera lighting!!! I welcome any and ALL posts about this! Thanks for sharing!

  58. David Martinez

    December 4th, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Hi Jasmine,
    Great work. Question: How are you using on camera flash along with the Pocketwizard transmitter? Would love to see a photo of that.

    All the best.

  59. Rosaura

    December 4th, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Great post – thanks so much for the idea and inspiration! Youz Rock!

  60. Miriam

    December 4th, 2009 at 2:18 am

    THIS was an essential post for my understanding of light. Light is one of the things that I fear the most as a beginning professional. And I HATE the thought of trial and error. It totally freaks me out!

  61. Megan Eckers

    December 4th, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Hi Jasmine…I’m a long time follower, first time commenter! I’m about as newbie as you get and feel like I don’t have a clue most of the time. Your FAQ posts (especially this one) are AMAZINGLY helpful, seriously!! Not only did you explain your set up, but you gave examples and told us exactly where you put the light! Awesome. I’m shooting my first wedding in the Spring and I’ve been stressing about lighting quite a bit, so THANK YOU! πŸ™‚

  62. Duncan Leung

    December 4th, 2009 at 2:26 am

    thats jasmine for always being so open to sharing! awesome to see your light setup!

    btw – was wondering; so how do you trigger the PW if you have an on-camera flash mounted as well?

  63. Ashley

    December 4th, 2009 at 2:33 am

    Ok, I am begging you to do another workshop and have a natural light segment and an off camera segment. Especially since off camera lighting is at the top of my Christmas list.

    I’m on the email list waiting for the next one!!!

  64. Nicole

    December 4th, 2009 at 3:06 am

    This post was so not boring at all. Very helpful and informative. I appreciate that you are so willing to share what you know and have learned. Your photos here are great. I like seeing what you did with your equipment. For some reason it seems like it would be cumbersome to move and position those lights and awkward during a wedding/reception. How do you manage to set it all up and get the crucial shot? Amazing work as always. πŸ™‚

  65. Kerry

    December 4th, 2009 at 3:06 am

    @Robin I think read this somewhere on this site, but I’m pretty sure Jasmine uses the "pc" jack on the camera to trigger the Pocket Wizard, and had a special mount made for the PW that screws into the camera’s tripod thread. @JASMINE* Here’s my question: Do you have an external battery pack for the Sunpak? Thx!

  66. brandi welch

    December 4th, 2009 at 3:15 am

    Getting the flash right has been one of my hardest things to learn, thanks for the post! I’m going to have to try this out now πŸ™‚

  67. Megan Hayes

    December 4th, 2009 at 3:32 am

    You didn’t bore me! I am so curious about off camera lighting. Thanks for posting!

  68. sarah

    December 4th, 2009 at 4:26 am

    totally helpful! i’m just getting off camera light figured out so this is awesome!

  69. Lydia

    December 4th, 2009 at 4:30 am

    "Repetition I say, repetition I say, repetition I say is the key to learning." Thanks for posting about this topic again! I learn so much by you sharing exactly what you did! You’re a true love cat!

  70. Romina Naiam

    December 4th, 2009 at 4:48 am

    Thanks so much for the sharing!!!

  71. Joanne Encarnacion

    December 4th, 2009 at 4:55 am

    I love you for this….Thanks for posting this…It is too awesome!

  72. Emma

    December 4th, 2009 at 5:37 am

    In that second to last photo, the bride looks like Taylor Swift!
    You’re awesome, J*, another great post!! πŸ™‚

  73. Austin Walker

    December 4th, 2009 at 6:40 am

    THANK YOU! As I get into the field, I’m ALWAYS looking for lighting tips and setups to keep my brain thinking. Thank you so much!

  74. Brian Fletcher

    December 4th, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Great info, Jasmine. Thanks for sharing!

  75. Amanda Burgess

    December 4th, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Been following your blog for a while now – and this was one of the most helpful posts. Thank you!

  76. Tim May

    December 4th, 2009 at 9:55 am

    @jasmine great post, nice and simple. I like it. My one question is not a technical one but more a question of balance really. I think what i really like about your blog is not necessarily all the how to’s (although i love them too) but it is more about how you work with your clients and your demeanor on the day. We sometimes do off camera flash but we tend to feel like we are being obtrusive if we use it too much (which we rarely do) How much would you say is too much for this kind of technique or do you just use it whenever you need it in oder to "get the photo"?

  77. Kamal Zharif

    December 4th, 2009 at 10:35 am

    wow!! i can see the difference using off flash photography..


    how did you manage the setting of the strobe location?

  78. Jasmin

    December 4th, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Thankyou so much. Flash scares the bejeezes out of me, both off and on camera! Just wondering what general settings you keep each flash head on. I’m guessing the on camera is used as fill and the flash with softbox is set higher????

  79. Jenne Yun

    December 4th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Hey Jas… same question as someone a bit further down… do you move the lighting around during the reception?

  80. Sarah Castor

    December 4th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Totally not boring! Very very educational! Thank you!

  81. rachel d

    December 4th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz….. huh? Wha? Lighting, huh? ;o) J*, there’s no possible way you can EVER bore anyone. You can talk about grass growing and we’d cling to your every written word (or spoken). hahahaha. Thanks for the ever-helpful post! Im in the process of getting my first flash. I must say I am fearful!


    December 4th, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    thank you…this was awesome Jasmine πŸ™‚

  83. ohana photographers

    December 4th, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    love the light!!!

  84. kimi - ohana photographers

    December 4th, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    mmm…yummy light!

  85. Jasmine*

    December 4th, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    One thing to quickly note due to all the questions…I don’t move the light during the reception. Once it’s found it’s spot, it’s there for good. Ideally, I try to tuck it away from guests direct view, preferring to keep it behind a speaker or pillar if possible. Also, the off-camera flash is set to 1/16 power. It’s just a small pop of light that is prettified by the softbox, and because the power is set so low, the batteries recycle quickly and there’s no need to change them throughout the night. I don’t use an external battery pack for the Sunpak.

  86. Megan Clugh

    December 4th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    This is awesome because I saved your post from 2007 and just bought the whole set up this past October. Haven’t used it yet because I’m nervous. This post really helped with a little extra insight!

  87. natalie

    December 4th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    this post was actually VERY helpful. thank you :).

  88. jenc

    December 4th, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this awesome ideas. I really admire your work! I just strted to venture out into photography and I know I still have a long way to go before I can finally be comfortable behind the camera. Your blog really helps me a lot!

  89. Wes Mosley

    December 4th, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Here is a link to picture of PW Jasmine’s setup from another post.

  90. Johanna Perales

    December 4th, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    What?! Two FAQ posts in a row?! Best Christmas present ever!! ;D Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us Jasmine!

  91. gladys jem

    December 4th, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    thanks for posting this Jasmine. SO helpful. Xoxo

  92. Nathan Gehman

    December 4th, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Jasmine thanks for all you share with the community as a whole. You are a such an inspiration. I am just starting to try multiple flashes and found this extremely helpful. Thanks again!

  93. Tor-Ivar

    December 4th, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Thank you! This was very useful! Thanks so much for sharing!

  94. Chris

    December 5th, 2009 at 5:48 am

    I know what Jasmine needs for Christmas: http://flashzebra.com/products/0070/index.shtml

    Greatest thing ever! (I’d throw in some item #0114s too as stocking stuffers.)

  95. jenny

    December 5th, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Thanks for revising this post, with your explanation, it makes a lot more sense πŸ™‚

  96. Leyla

    December 5th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    I’m not a photographer, but I can say on behalf of all the photographer readers of your blog, THANK YOU! For being so super cool and helpful with sharing this type of information. Karma always comes back and it sure will reward your for having such a wonderful, big heart! xoxo L

  97. Valerie Robinson

    December 5th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Jasmine – I pink fluffy heart you! As a newbie photographer, I have struggled with this for so long! This was so helpful! Thanks

  98. rachel debell

    December 6th, 2009 at 4:53 am

    Ok, my question is more about pocket wizards. I cannot seem to get mine to fire consistently at receptions. Sometimes they work fine, sometimes…no way, no how are they gonna fire! I’d love to know what mechanisms you use to plug into your camera (and on camera flash), as well as off camera! I thought I saw in a picture that you had a cool contraption to plug into the bottom of your camera.

  99. CReid

    December 6th, 2009 at 11:45 am

    This was awesome…thanks for the knowledge.


  100. MegRuth Photography

    December 6th, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I appreciate it immensely!

  101. Amy Snyder

    December 7th, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Very NOT boring info! Thanks for posting. It’s information like this that reminds me I have a lot more to learn, and I’m inspired to do so through your blog. ;o)

  102. Ala @ The Modern Type

    December 7th, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    i tried this at my last wedding. the shots i was successful on were fabulous! putting together a night shoot at the moment for more practice!

  103. Margol Photography

    December 8th, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Thanks for this info! It’s amazing that you handle lighting, emotions… etc.

  104. Kayla Renckly

    December 8th, 2009 at 4:36 am

    I love your posts that show what you did, I’m a visual learner and it helps me "get it"

  105. Marco

    December 9th, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    its great and def not boring. if you set the light to 1/16, how do you meter your exposure then? with automatic, or in manual mode? thanks and greetings marco

  106. Life with Kaishon

    December 10th, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I learned so much. I think I will print it out!

  107. Gina Leigh

    December 14th, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I found this post very helpful over a year ago when I bought a very similar set-up…thanks, Jasmine! Since it helped me so much, I thought I’d share a couple of things that have worked for me. First, I bought several little double sided screws from home depot that fits into the tripod mount on the bottom of the camera for .49 cents at Home Depot. I use this to screw the PocketWizards into the bottom of the camera so I can still use on camera flash. Jasmine, sounds like you have a similar system to mount the PocketWizard. I also happened to find and buy a used Sunpak 383…I love it because it is a non-dedicated flash. I’m a film shooter and I use several Nikon 35mm’s and a Contax 645. I can use the Sunpak with all my camera bodies. I do find a battery pack to be helpful for consistent exposure if I want to fire off several shots in a row – I use a Quantum Turbo Battery Pack (which I bought on Ebay) on my Sunpak off camera light, and a Nikon battery pack on my camera bodies. I don’t love to be hooked up to the Nikon battery pack all night, but I use it for the most important moments…first dance, etc. Also, I’m using a small umbrella which folds up and is easy for my assistant to carry – this is nice when we are moving from several locations, and we don’t have a place to set up the light stand until we arrive at the reception. Rachel Debell mentioned having a hard time getting it to fire consistently, and I experienced the same thing at first. I had a set of PocketWizards that I fought with for almost 6 months – they fired beautifully at times, and other times they just wouldn’t work. Finally, after four or five trips to the camera store that I bought them from, I returned them, and bought a new set. The new set works perfectly, so I’m pretty convinced that I had a bad set to begin with. Lastly, getting the right synch cord can be tricky. I found a cord and an attachment at Radio Shack that are working well for me now, but it wasn’t perfect to start with. There is a little lip on the Sunpak 383 that makes it difficult to fit the right size attachment in, so I took the attachment to a local camera guy and he shaved off the plastic side of the attachment with a razor blade to make it fit. Now it fires consistently. I also carry a pair of pliers in my bag because sometimes the piece that attaches to the camera needs tightened a little. Oh, last thing – I’m using the same type of PocketWizards that are in Jasmine’s photo above. I understand that they have a new model out now, and if I remember correctly, I think you have to use them in TTL mode, and I need to use them manually with my Contax 645. So, the old model is perfect for me. Not positive about that though. Wow…that is a much longer comment than I had intended, but hopefully it will be helpful to someone!

  108. Jana Marler

    December 15th, 2009 at 4:15 am

    Jasmine.. You are a blessing from a far. Such an inspiration and a good resource. Hopefully I will get to meet you soon. I am smack dab in the middle of the country so I’ll save to come to one of your workshops. (maybe this next one) Eeh!
    Thanks for all your insite. (smiles), Jana

  109. Doreen Kline

    December 15th, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Gorgeous reception shots Jasmine!

  110. Andi Diamond

    December 17th, 2009 at 12:48 am

    so cool of you to share. is your off camera flash always set on manual at a certain power??

  111. Jen

    December 21st, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you! I just attended a wedding bootcamp and have an event coming up where most of the work will be indoors and low light situations. I was curious about the power settings on the off camera lights, and now I can envision this working…. Very good help!!

  112. Ashley Madsen

    December 26th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Guess what I got for Christmas?!?! I emailed my husband this post. So excited to get to work now.

  113. jun

    December 27th, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Hi I have been reading your blog for a few hours now and you are so inspiring!

    I just have a question regarding your off camera flash technique. Do you still manually meter the light or you just rely on your LCD? I was curious because this is a run and shoot situation so moment is of the essence.

  114. Jessie Thompson

    December 28th, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Thank God for you, Jasmine! I hope you can see how He is working though you. I just read this uber-fab post (which I so needed right now) and all the comments. I am again struck by how blessed we readers are to have you and by what a wonderful online community you have created. Thank you so much!:)

  115. Tiffany

    January 4th, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Me…like the rest of the bloggers, thanks you so much for this post. Here is my question (and I shoot with Nikon)…if your accessory shoe has your transmitter in it, to fire your softbox, how do you also shoot with an on camera flash? It may be super obvious, but I am having a hard time figuring that out. I have been shooting more weddings inside and am on a huge learning curve. I ordered the softbox kit and already have 2 speedlights and a transmitter for them. My only thought was that you had the off camera light on slave…but then why would you need a transmitter and receiver? hmmm…clearly stumped. I have a wedding in a couple weeks and would love to have this all figured out. Thanks as always!!!

  116. Kimberly Lange

    January 5th, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Since Sharing equals caring. You really like us! I am wondering about the "grand exit" with sparklers. Do you have any lighting tips and tricks that would help make sure that I get the right exposer!? Do you direct the crown with the sparklers? Also any tips with firework at receptions. Thanks!

  117. Kristina Marshall

    January 6th, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Jasmine ~ Thanks for sharing your lighting techniques! I’ve always loved your lighting and wondered how you captured amazing reception photos. I’ll have to try this! Thank you!!!!

  118. Jimmy Karlsen

    January 24th, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Hi. I learned a lot of your post. I see its a long time since you posted this article but anyway, just wanted to say thanks for sharing your lighting techniques.

    You should make a video from behind a wedding shoot:P that would have been cool.

    Keep ut the good photographic work

  119. Bryan

    March 15th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Fantastic post and a great tutorial, thanks for taking the time to share!

  120. melissa hayes

    March 22nd, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    thank you for sharing your experiences Jasmine * πŸ™‚

  121. Ron Pitre

    July 10th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Jasmine, I’m just exploring off-camera flash using a setup similar to yours. If you find the time, can you please address how you metered the scenes in this post, how you determined off-camera AND on camera settings, as well as camera settings. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge.

  122. Allyson

    August 20th, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Thanks a lot for this post. I haven’t done much weddings, but I found it a very informative reason for things to come…

  123. Christy Cundiff

    October 12th, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    I noticed in your video it looked like you were using natural lighting with the bride and groom because I saw no transmitter… is that so?

  124. Donal Doherty

    January 2nd, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I’m watching your workshop on creative live and wanted to get a closer look at the light set-up. I really can’t wait to try this out at a wedding later in the year. Thanks for sharing Jasmine.

  125. James Reyes Photography

    January 13th, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Second light (check). Softbox (check). Lightstrand (check). Now I just need to spring for a couple of pocket wizards.

  126. Brittany Stover

    January 14th, 2011 at 1:38 am

    What do you set your camera settings to when you are shooting with multiple flashes. Are you still shooting in Manual or do you prefer AV?

  127. chelo savolini

    January 14th, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I Jasmine, I’m a starting wedding Photographer from Italy. I followed you on Creative Live and on your blog. That’s incredible! very Question I’d like to give you… there’s just a Post. Like this!
    Thanks for explaining you work secrets.

  128. Carolyn Egerszegi

    January 14th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    J* – This post is extremely informative and helpful! Thank you!!!! Note – I know you wrote this a while ago, but the link to your lighting set up at Photoflex.com is dead. Cheers and stay fabulous…!

  129. John DeLuca

    February 5th, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Great post and nice combination of lightweight equipment. The off camera fill really adds a "studio" look to live events and weddings. The extra effort will definitely give the "pro" look.

  130. Lana Kanis

    February 28th, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Hi Jasmin,
    A quick question for you – possibly a ditzy one. I noticed that you sometimes use on-camera flash as well as the soft box off camera. How are you running your wizard on your camera as well as having an on cam flash with only one spot for a shoe?


    March 9th, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Big proponent of PocketWizards too! I prefer using the Mini TTI and Flex TT5 ( I think that’s their names…) to trip my on and off camera lights.

  132. Ashley Martens

    March 17th, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Thanks for the great tips! One more question, do you set up the lighting as you go? and if you do, how do have time for that? Or do you have the lighting all set up and leave it so you would work with what you had in every situation?

  133. Jackson MS Photographer

    March 24th, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! Invaluable information

  134. Dawn & Michael Mitchell

    March 29th, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Thanks for the info, reception lighting is my worst subject!

  135. Chris

    March 29th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I would love to know how you get your off camera flash set up so quickly in the different positions. For instance, photographing inside and then having it moved and set up for when the bride and groom leave the building.

    I guess having JD to help is useful, I always worry that on my own I wouldn’t have the time to get it all setup and miss important shots!

  136. Kevin McBride

    March 30th, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Thank you!

  137. Kate

    April 2nd, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Thank you for revisiting this!!! Seriously is one of my biggest issues with receptions and I really hate what I get using just on camera flash….and I really don’t like cranking the iso so I have tended to steer clear of receptions….This give me some direction and hope! Now to just trap some family and friends in a hall and practice some lighting!

  138. Marissa Welsh

    April 14th, 2011 at 4:07 am

    Jasmine, I have to give you huge props for sharing this info with all of us, and super props for answering others questions!! You are such a superstar in photography and a awesome person to top it off!

  139. Darling Paumen

    May 18th, 2011 at 2:54 am

    this is extremely useful info – I LOVE YOU!

  140. jennifer little

    July 29th, 2011 at 2:45 am

    Jasmine, First of all — thank you for all the tremendous information you always provide! This is a simple question, but I’d just like to clarify. Is the Sunpak what you use in the LiteDome, or is that a flash you use on a stand in addition to the LiteDome? Is there another affordable flash you would recommend like the Sunpak Auto 383 Super Flash? Thanks again!

  141. jennifer little

    July 29th, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Thank you!

  142. Eryn Kesler

    November 13th, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Hey Jasmine, I just came back to this post for about the 12th time! I shot a wedding last night that was VERY dark and I used this setup. It worked well for me…so THANK YOU! I was wondering though, if you usually have a hard time getting the 580EXII to cycle quick enough on camera. Mine was taking a long time in between shots to catch up, and I felt like I missed some great moments, because my on camera flash wasn’t firing quick enough. any tips?

  143. Phil Monk

    November 16th, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    2years since the last person commented, yet it’s still relevant…!

  144. Jennifer

    March 9th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    SO HELPFUL. You’re wonderful for sharing your talent and inspiring. Thank you.

  145. Samantha Jo

    March 30th, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Thank you!! I’m ready to take this step with my wedding receptions and this was so helpful! Now I know a good direction to go in! Thanks again!

  146. Mac

    June 26th, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    So talented…so giving. If you charged for this advice, you’d be in Forbes. That says a lot about you…Thanks….

  147. Jenine

    July 11th, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Jasmine, how has your setup changed now that you shoot with the 5d Mark III? I am struggling with finding compatible (and affordable) components to create a similar set-up. Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!

  148. Amy Jensen

    July 14th, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Hi Jasmine, could you tell what your camera settings might have been for the *sparklers shot*? please and thank you! πŸ˜€

  149. Max Surikov

    September 17th, 2012 at 9:37 am

    The key to off-camera flash is the angle of setup. The difficulty is knowing where the subject will be. The dancing shots/cake, garter, bouquet are very easy to setup provided you have enough space to work with. I usually setup my 600EX at the corners of the dance floor that way I can roam around and get great shots no matter where I am.

  150. Samuel Marcondes

    December 7th, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Great, thanks for share! πŸ™‚

  151. Paul Donovan

    February 10th, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Excellent information on flash thanks for posting this. Beautiful Pictures also.


  152. Kate Appelman

    March 8th, 2013 at 2:39 am

    THANK YOU for these Tech posts. Feel free to be "repetitive" (as you noted in this post that you’ve posted about reception lighting 2 years ago). It’s all greatly helpful and appreciated. πŸ™‚

  153. dana todd

    June 14th, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Jasmine – your on camera flash for these, (thank you btw for sharing info!) are you in TTL mode or manual and if manual what are your typical settngs? Also how far are your subjects typicallyf rom you with the on camera flahs? it tried on camera, and my subjects are not nearly as lit as yours, i’m thinking i’m to far away or settings are off….do you also bounce up or tilt with bounce card? your my hero!

  154. Ian

    November 14th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    You mention you use on camera flash as well as your off camera. Do you use any form of diffuser with your on camera flash, or just bare using TTL?

  155. Shanelle Mele

    December 13th, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Jasmine, You are amazing i love how freely you share information to help other photographers. This information is very informative. My biggest weakness is lighting the reception! I hope to use your advice soon!

  156. Amy Leah

    January 3rd, 2014 at 4:41 am

    Jasmine! This is awesome. Does this post still reflect your gear today? 580 Flash? Do you use the 600 with TTL? Also- do you use the soft box at the reception or just the mounted slave flash?? Curious! I find a lot of photographers have a blasted sunshine look behind their brides and to the side when using a mounted flash…do you create the ambient lighting by using your soft box during the reception?

  157. julie

    January 15th, 2014 at 4:49 am

    Jasmine, in several of the pictures you mentioned the off camera light being behind a pillar. How does the light help if it’s behind a pillar? I’m trying to imagine the setup in my head and having trouble doing so. Is the pillar blocking the light or is the soft box in front of the pillar? Thanks for any help! You can FB or email me too!
    Your favorite fan…..
    Julie in Jax, FL

  158. picturewales

    February 21st, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I feel when shooting weddings I never have time to setup off camera lighting, but seeing these images you have totally inspired me todo so, thank you

  159. Ivonne

    April 24th, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Thank you for sharing Jasmine!!! photographers out there that own a Sunpak 383 what flash cord is the one I need, I have pocket wizards plus X, I have researched the web inmmesly trying to find out and seems impossible… Help!!!!

  160. Eva

    June 30th, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Sooo needed this!

  161. Priscilla Photography

    January 13th, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    I noticed this post is from 2009 you previously had one explaining your light set up in 2007. Has much changed since then? Or is this what you are currently using today? Thanks for the feed back it is much appreciated.

  162. Georgia

    July 30th, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Thanks for this – it has been more helpful than most with all the example photos. X

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