As we are about to start a new wedding season, I always like to go back through some old blog posts and remember the friends that we shot last year and the good times, relive some of the parties and check out some of my favorite images. As I was scrolling through I stropped on one from Jeff and Jolene’s wedding from earlier this year. I stopped because Bob captured an image that I think is a great example of a terrific reception photo and a great example of knowing your equipment and what it can do. It’s also a pretty good example of the dangers of overdoing a good thing.
You’ve probably seen it before. It has swirling lights and an ethereal effect but the subject of the photo is sharp. It almost seems counterintuitive. How do you make lights swirl and still stop the action. The technique is actually pretty simple in theory and sometimes harder to execute.
Here’s how to do it. The first thing is to slow your shutter speed down – way down – to like 1/20 of a second or even slower. You may also need to drop your ISO if you shoot receptions with the relatively ISO high, which is what we typically do. Now, it’s pretty simple from here. Focus on your subject and fire the shutter. As the camera is taking the shot rotate your camera to the side pretty quickly. You will get the lights to dance for you. You might need to adjust the power of your flash a little, so experiment a little and you will get the shot you want. It takes a little practice, and it’s hard to nail the first time. You might need a few takes but if you’re at a reception there is usually a little time to play around and get it right. Just don’t do it during the important moments like the first dance! And remember a couple of these shots are cool to deliver to your clients but don’t go overboard. It can get old if every photo is done this way!