Last weekend was my uncle's wedding, it was an outdoor event with great scenery for photography during the day. But when it became dark out lighting was of course more difficult. I do not have a ton of money to spend on lighting just yet and having a portable studio lighting was not an option. I did use a flash which did work for the most part. But during an event like this that flash photography can get quite annoying.

I was thinking of getting a ring light to do lighting, something that is always on and not quite annoying. I want to do more Portrait photography.

What lighting options would you recommend?


3 Answers 3


I'd recommend sticking with speedlights. Ring lights have a much more limited range and would be a) much more distracting and b) consume much more power to stay on constantly. Constant lights also are not nearly as bright and so they won't give you nearly the coverage that a strobe can give you. Ring strobes would make a difference for close up shots (to give lighting under the lens, but would still be a flash and would still be frontal. Your best bet is to get diffusers that will improve the softness of the lighting from the strobes and also help make them less annoying (since the light will come from a bigger area.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have seen photographers add any number of attachments (some homemade) to soften the light - as AJ Henderson says, the diffusion greatly helps stop the annoyance of hte flash. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kir
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looks like a diffuser is the way to go then I am looking at amazon.ca for them, thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Drew
    Aug 31, 2013 at 0:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DrewS - personally I use some of the products that Lumiquest makes. I've had good luck with them and they are pretty cheap. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 31, 2013 at 3:05

I really don't think there is any practical way to make a flash less annoying outside of not using it. It is the nature of the beast. Even with light modifiers, its still a ridiculously bright object that can annoy or bother some people.

I think it is more important to simply understand that at an event such as a wedding where a respectful and religious atmosphere can typically occur; a photographer should be considerate of the guests and limit any unnecessary flash bulbs. If you aren't the hired wedding photographer, I would strongly consider not using your camera at all, but if you must I would do so without a flash. If you are the hired photographer, you should still do what you can to be discrete while still getting the shots you need. A hired photographer should be competent enough to not need to turn on burst mode and fire of 25 flashed shots every minute for example. Softening the flash out of consideration of the quality of light is very important, and may help reduce annoyance of the flash itself - but it is more critical to the end resulting photo then any impact to guests annoyance.

Overall no I would not recommend a ring light or any constant light source. I would recommend using a flash unit but simply using it in consideration of the type of event you are at. If it is a quiet respectful wedding, you should likely follow that lead and be as discrete as possible.


Some tools I would recommend.

  1. A lightweight tripod. You also can buy a monopod. There are monopods with a "small tripod" on the base.

  2. A luminous lens. On Canon you have the 50mm 1.8 lens very cheap, excellent optics... but it is slow as hell on focusing. That is why some people use continuous light to aid focusing, because you have a very narrow DOF. But to be honest, you probably need a wider lens on a wedding for the group shoots. And probably you won't shoot in f/1.8 on a group photo because someone is going to be out of focus. Another feature to look here is a lens with optical stabilization.

Here comes the tricky part

The annoyance of a built in flash is the flat light it provides. That will happen to you with a ring flash too. That gives you an urban paparazzi look. But probably you don't need that.

  1. Go for a speed light with radio receptor and a remote trigger.

There you can go with 2 options: Manual or TTL. A very nice option for manual are the Yongnuo YN560 III and Yongnuo RF-603 trigger. (In some cameras you also can fire it remotely using 2 of these.) There is a new model IV. I'm not sure about the differences.

For TTL there are several models from the same brand like Yongnuo YN568EX, and you have some options for TTL trigger. The details on the different options on TTL triggers are a little out of the scope of the answer. But take a look.

One useful feature on a TTL flash on the camera is that some models can send a light to aid focusing.

  1. If you are going for a speedlight and a wireless remote trigger, your next asset, besides a light diffuser for the flash, is... an assistant.

He can provide you directional light, he can light a wedding couple from 3 meters and you can take a photo from across the room 15 meters away to have a panoramic view.

Look for some tutorials on how to combine ambient light with a speed light... You will love the results.

  1. The most expensive option is buy a new camera body with a really high ISO setting.

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