AYP Reception Lighting | How We Photograph Indoor Weddings with Flash

AYP Reception Lighting | How We Photograph Indoor Weddings with Flash

July 13, 2020

Filled in :

AYP Reception Lighting | How We Photograph Indoor Weddings with Flash

July 13, 2020

Filled in :

I'm Alicia! The Houston Wedding Photographer that gets you the photos you want- minus the stress. 

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Wintertime Jennings Trace Wedding

JAMIE & KATIE'S EIFFEL TOWER
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Bride and Groom Grand Entrance | Reception Lighting with Flash at The Bell Tower on 34th photographed by Alicia Yarrish

“What’s your lighting set up for photographing my reception? You’re a natural light photographer, right?” This is one of those questions you’ll see listed on every “What to Ask Your Wedding Photographer” list. Sometimes it’s lumped with the generic gear question and sometimes it’s specifically on its own. And while I’m a firm believer that when you hire a professional you won’t have to worry about things like this I completely understand the reasoning to ask. After all, you want to ensure you are hiring a professional! I welcome all questions and appreciate your investment in knowing for yourself that I am a professional equipped to handle each and every unique situation on your wedding day!

What’s Off-Camera Flash?

You’ll hear photographers referring to their off-camera flash, or OCF, setups often in the wedding world. It’s extremely important! But what is it? OCF is any artificial light source not mounted in or on your camera that is controlled manually through your camera settings. In my case, I use several flashes in various spots in a room to light it in a way that keeps the ambiance however ensures the photograph shows you, the subject very well! It’s basically the tools we use to ensure there is enough light to see subjects in a photograph!

My Approach to Artificial Lighting

My OCF Set Up & Gear

While I wish I could draw a photo for you and say this is my lighting set up for each and every wedding- I can’t. You can even tell me your venue and I still cannot tell you my lighting set up! Why? Because each wedding is different. What I can tell you, however, is that I use anywhere from 3-6 flashes during your reception (and any other time it’s necessary) to ensure the best possible photos for you and yours.

One thing I can tell you is a flash will never be pointed directly into your eyes! This is imperative to keep my wedding reception style- and for you and your guests comfort. Instead, flashes on cameras are pointed slightly back allowing light for the photo and no intense shadows on your faces during posed group photos. And flashes on stands will be above your eye level so you don’t notice them during moments like your first dance and toasts.

The set up I choose to use will largely depend on your floor plan. That will determine where I need to fill dark areas with light and how many flashes I need in a room. It also depends on what your other professional wedding vendors are using! The equipment I use, and how I use it, is somewhat determined by what lights your DJ and Videographer are using. And because they can dramatically affect how your photos look I always have a conversation with everyone involved to determine the best lighting solution for the ambiance of your event as well as the photos and video!

My Philosophy to Reception Lighting

I believe that flashes should be used to enhance the light I need for your photos all while retaining the ambiance of your wedding day. There are times when I get creative with flashes and get you epic dance floor photos, however, those are a small percentage, not the majority. More often than not I’m aiming for even lighting that enhances the look and feel of your actual wedding day so you can look back on it exactly how it looked and felt in the moment.

If your wedding reception is outdoor, it’s not my goal to light up the entire sky or even the subjects further away. It’s my goal to light the subject I’m making the center of attention in the photo and let everything else fade into the night. Because that’s how it really looked and felt!

When I photograph a Houston ballroom reception the look I’m going for and therefor the gear I choose to use will depend on how much light there is. Have you chosen to keep a low lit vibe during your reception? Or have you turned on more lights so the room is a bit brighter? Whatever the case I’m going to preserve the look you so carefully chose for your wedding day!

Your AYP Assitant

On your wedding day, you’ll have a team of three people. Me, your lead photographer, a very qualified and fun second photographer, and our assistant!

Our assistant does so much throughout the day! Stefanie is our lead assistant. One of the highlights of her job is to shuffle your bridal suite around, removing clutter, for the absolute best getting ready photos with no distractions in the background. However, Stefanie does a lot behind the scenes that you probably won’t actually see on your wedding day. She handles our gear! This is a huge advantage even more if you have a large venue.

I’m a firm believer that your photographers should not stop taking photos to go set up gear. There are several moments on a wedding day that gear becomes a time suck. Probably the most obvious is the reception set up. It requires a lot of lighting and a lot of busywork to set up that lighting. Something our assistants are well trained in so your photographers can walk in, make some tweaks, test lighting and be good to go!

As a side note- our assistants are also there for you and your bridal party! Outside taking portraits and forgot your bouquet? No worries. An assistant will get it so you keep all your girls with you and continue photographing. If you haven’t had the chance to talk to me about your wedding day yet know that I’m all about variety and maximizing our time together!

Outdoor reception with flash lighting at Emery's Buffalo Creek in Bellville, Texas photographed by Alicia Yarrish Photography

Houston Wedding Reception Lighting

A classic wedding at The Carriage House with Church Ceremony

The Carriage House is a great venue that can accommodate hundreds of guests. Generally, a great option if you want a more rustic wedding style! However, this couple chose to dress up The Carriage House barn with florals downplaying the rustic element. For their reception lighting, it was very important to me to keep the colors as they were while not making their photos have an overall orange-tinge. That is a challenge in every barn because light reflects against walls and ceilings.

Getting married in a barn? Not to worry! I know exactly how to light your reception space to show off it’s best features!

Modern, architectural wedding at Jennings Trace 

These two hosted a gorgeous day at a very modern venue- Jennings Trace Wedding Venue in Montgomery, Texas. My goal at their reception was to preserve the beautiful ‘star lights’ above them! It’s likely a big reason they chose this venue for their Houston area wedding reception. It’s a gorgeous staple at their venue and I wanted to keep it darkly lit.

This wedding gallery also gives a great example of lighting getting darker as the evening goes on. Generally, for first dances and toasts, the room lights are brought up. And slowly throughout the night, they are dimmed to accommodate the mood!

Outdoor Wedding at Emery’s Buffalo Creek

As I mentioned before with any outdoor evening wedding my goal isn’t to light *everything* up. It simply wouldn’t look natural! The goal is rather, to light up the main subjects of the photos in a natural way leaving the rest of the night sky and ambiance intact. Another fun challenge with artificial light during this wedding was their grand finale. Fireworks!

For fireworks, my team and I need to use flash in a way that puts flattering light on the couple. All while keeping the night sky dark and fireworks not washed out. At this Emery’s Buffalo Creek wedding it was a fun challenge because the couple stepped away to view the fireworks and have an intimate moment to end their day. However, it was nearly pitch black where they chose to view the firework showcase. Of course, my team and I came up with a plan to capture it all brilliantly!

Book Your Houston Wedding Photographer

Ready to hire a fun, expert photographer to capture your most important moments? I’m excited to chat! Use the form below to tell me a little about the wedding day you’re envisioning. I’ll reply within 24 hours with more about me, my photography, and the next steps to reserve me for your wedding day!

Not located in Houston? That’s okay! I love to travel and would love to capture your love story no matter where on the map you’re saying, “I do!”


Fireworks at Emery's at Buffalo Creek Wedding | Alicia Yarrish Photography

Bride and Groom Grand Entrance | Reception Lighting with Flash at The Bell Tower on 34th photographed by Alicia Yarrish

“What’s your lighting set up for photographing my reception? You’re a natural light photographer, right?” This is one of those questions you’ll see listed on every “What to Ask Your Wedding Photographer” list. Sometimes it’s lumped with the generic gear question and sometimes it’s specifically on its own. And while I’m a firm believer that when you hire a professional you won’t have to worry about things like this I completely understand the reasoning to ask. After all, you want to ensure you are hiring a professional! I welcome all questions and appreciate your investment in knowing for yourself that I am a professional equipped to handle each and every unique situation on your wedding day!

What’s Off-Camera Flash?

You’ll hear photographers referring to their off-camera flash, or OCF, setups often in the wedding world. It’s extremely important! But what is it? OCF is any artificial light source not mounted in or on your camera that is controlled manually through your camera settings. In my case, I use several flashes in various spots in a room to light it in a way that keeps the ambiance however ensures the photograph shows you, the subject very well! It’s basically the tools we use to ensure there is enough light to see subjects in a photograph!

My Approach to Artificial Lighting

My OCF Set Up & Gear

While I wish I could draw a photo for you and say this is my lighting set up for each and every wedding- I can’t. You can even tell me your venue and I still cannot tell you my lighting set up! Why? Because each wedding is different. What I can tell you, however, is that I use anywhere from 3-6 flashes during your reception (and any other time it’s necessary) to ensure the best possible photos for you and yours.

One thing I can tell you is a flash will never be pointed directly into your eyes! This is imperative to keep my wedding reception style- and for you and your guests comfort. Instead, flashes on cameras are pointed slightly back allowing light for the photo and no intense shadows on your faces during posed group photos. And flashes on stands will be above your eye level so you don’t notice them during moments like your first dance and toasts.

The set up I choose to use will largely depend on your floor plan. That will determine where I need to fill dark areas with light and how many flashes I need in a room. It also depends on what your other professional wedding vendors are using! The equipment I use, and how I use it, is somewhat determined by what lights your DJ and Videographer are using. And because they can dramatically affect how your photos look I always have a conversation with everyone involved to determine the best lighting solution for the ambiance of your event as well as the photos and video!

My Philosophy to Reception Lighting

I believe that flashes should be used to enhance the light I need for your photos all while retaining the ambiance of your wedding day. There are times when I get creative with flashes and get you epic dance floor photos, however, those are a small percentage, not the majority. More often than not I’m aiming for even lighting that enhances the look and feel of your actual wedding day so you can look back on it exactly how it looked and felt in the moment.

If your wedding reception is outdoor, it’s not my goal to light up the entire sky or even the subjects further away. It’s my goal to light the subject I’m making the center of attention in the photo and let everything else fade into the night. Because that’s how it really looked and felt!

When I photograph a Houston ballroom reception the look I’m going for and therefor the gear I choose to use will depend on how much light there is. Have you chosen to keep a low lit vibe during your reception? Or have you turned on more lights so the room is a bit brighter? Whatever the case I’m going to preserve the look you so carefully chose for your wedding day!

Your AYP Assitant

On your wedding day, you’ll have a team of three people. Me, your lead photographer, a very qualified and fun second photographer, and our assistant!

Our assistant does so much throughout the day! Stefanie is our lead assistant. One of the highlights of her job is to shuffle your bridal suite around, removing clutter, for the absolute best getting ready photos with no distractions in the background. However, Stefanie does a lot behind the scenes that you probably won’t actually see on your wedding day. She handles our gear! This is a huge advantage even more if you have a large venue.

I’m a firm believer that your photographers should not stop taking photos to go set up gear. There are several moments on a wedding day that gear becomes a time suck. Probably the most obvious is the reception set up. It requires a lot of lighting and a lot of busywork to set up that lighting. Something our assistants are well trained in so your photographers can walk in, make some tweaks, test lighting and be good to go!

As a side note- our assistants are also there for you and your bridal party! Outside taking portraits and forgot your bouquet? No worries. An assistant will get it so you keep all your girls with you and continue photographing. If you haven’t had the chance to talk to me about your wedding day yet know that I’m all about variety and maximizing our time together!

Outdoor reception with flash lighting at Emery's Buffalo Creek in Bellville, Texas photographed by Alicia Yarrish Photography

Houston Wedding Reception Lighting

A classic wedding at The Carriage House with Church Ceremony

The Carriage House is a great venue that can accommodate hundreds of guests. Generally, a great option if you want a more rustic wedding style! However, this couple chose to dress up The Carriage House barn with florals downplaying the rustic element. For their reception lighting, it was very important to me to keep the colors as they were while not making their photos have an overall orange-tinge. That is a challenge in every barn because light reflects against walls and ceilings.

Getting married in a barn? Not to worry! I know exactly how to light your reception space to show off it’s best features!

Modern, architectural wedding at Jennings Trace 

These two hosted a gorgeous day at a very modern venue- Jennings Trace Wedding Venue in Montgomery, Texas. My goal at their reception was to preserve the beautiful ‘star lights’ above them! It’s likely a big reason they chose this venue for their Houston area wedding reception. It’s a gorgeous staple at their venue and I wanted to keep it darkly lit.

This wedding gallery also gives a great example of lighting getting darker as the evening goes on. Generally, for first dances and toasts, the room lights are brought up. And slowly throughout the night, they are dimmed to accommodate the mood!

Outdoor Wedding at Emery’s Buffalo Creek

As I mentioned before with any outdoor evening wedding my goal isn’t to light *everything* up. It simply wouldn’t look natural! The goal is rather, to light up the main subjects of the photos in a natural way leaving the rest of the night sky and ambiance intact. Another fun challenge with artificial light during this wedding was their grand finale. Fireworks!

For fireworks, my team and I need to use flash in a way that puts flattering light on the couple. All while keeping the night sky dark and fireworks not washed out. At this Emery’s Buffalo Creek wedding it was a fun challenge because the couple stepped away to view the fireworks and have an intimate moment to end their day. However, it was nearly pitch black where they chose to view the firework showcase. Of course, my team and I came up with a plan to capture it all brilliantly!

Book Your Houston Wedding Photographer

Ready to hire a fun, expert photographer to capture your most important moments? I’m excited to chat! Use the form below to tell me a little about the wedding day you’re envisioning. I’ll reply within 24 hours with more about me, my photography, and the next steps to reserve me for your wedding day!

Not located in Houston? That’s okay! I love to travel and would love to capture your love story no matter where on the map you’re saying, “I do!”


Fireworks at Emery's at Buffalo Creek Wedding | Alicia Yarrish Photography

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