As a wedding photographer, I am challenged for eliminating light stands and sunguns in a regular wedding and reception.

As we all know, Indian weddings and receptions have a always-stretchable duration of shoot, with a minimum of 5 hours. I currently use at least two sun guns and two studio strobe lights and more if required. But, major complaints of blocking the view of the audience are presented to me. It also spoils the decor and doesn't look good on wedding films and candid pictures.

Are there any effective alternatives to the traditional lighting?

Challenges and constraints: - Cannot use a flash as it runs out of battery even with a powerpack. We cannot take risks of changing the flash batteries on field during the event. - Minimising lights to one unit where sungun and strobe be used on a single stand. - Stage decor sometimes block the light if we place in from of the stage

some Wedding decors

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is an interesting challenge and I'm very curious of what sort of answers are produced. My gut tells me high ISO like Sony A7s type of ISO, but that's probably not a viable option... \$\endgroup\$
    – SailorCire
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 14:58

3 Answers 3


I hope this question gets a lot of answers because it is a complex situation.

My two cents are:

1) The obvious. Have a very fast lens, and I mean a very fast lens.

2) Use the bigger ISO your camera can give you. Probably one ISO less than the maximum. It is somehow easier to remove noise than a moved photo.

3) Shoot in raw. You probably can underexpose 1 step if you need that little extra shutter speed.

4) Get a monopod. I have not used them but there are some interesting monopod with a tiny 3 foot stand at the bottom. It is more flexible than a tripod.

The not so obvious:

5) Get an assistant (or 2) and a radio triggered flashes, with a portable diffuser. Not the tiny plastic ones. There are a couple of foldable models... very interesting. It is easier that one assistant moves from here to there without a tripod... he is the walking tripod.

I'm not sure if you need to balance the light from the flash or not. That will depend on your style or look you want to achieve. Experiment a bit. Try to use the ambient light as much as possible.

I would not use the flashes at maximum power but 1/4 or less. Depends on the situation.

6) I would try to shoot at 1/15 or faster. Probably 1/30

7) Try to study the location in advanced. Try to measure the ambient light to know what to expect.

8) Talk to the responsibles of the ceremony, tell them you are the official photographer and ask where you can stand. Be gentle.

9) Probably a dumb idea but it is an idea... Have a backup "point and shoot camera" — some of them are very good in low light situations. I would use it for some general views with a wide angle zoom.

10) As SailorCire wrote on the comment, get a better camera. Better low light performance is one of the best reasons to upgrade a camera body. You can probably rent it if you do not want to buy it right now.


Are there any effective alternatives to the traditional lighting?

Set your standard lighting up as an isolated studio in a corner of the hall, or in another room nearby. You will need a "wrangler" to go out into the crowd and gather up suitable pairings, groups, etc. and bring them to you. Ideally, you want two of them, one from each family, since they know what the logical groupings are.

Choose a nice available background, or bring your own.

You also need a mobile rig. I've gotten a lot of mileage out of a flash bracket and some kind of diffuser, with the flash dialed back to act only as a fill for the available light.

Perhaps counterintuitively, this means you use more power outdoors than indoors, because outdoors you are competing with the sun. Indoors, you might be setting FEC -2 or -3 for TTL metering, or setting the flash on manual at 1/64 power. This may help with your battery situation.

Cannot use a flash as it runs out of battery even with a powerpack. We cannot take risks of changing the flash batteries on field during the event.

That seems like quite a bold statement to run unchallenged.

Why can't you take a risk? You were under the impression that everything was under your control?

What is this risk, anyway? That you will get 3,599 properly-exposed photos to sort through instead of 3,600?

Shooting a live event is like surfing. A skilled surfer knows how to look out over the ocean and see the wave long before it crests, put himself in its way, and ride it until it disappears. Then he goes out and finds another wave to ride. A surfer doesn't get to ride every wave; he just makes the most out of the ones he does catch.

If your clients are demanding that every instant of every angle of every person be recorded for perfect replay, but that you accomplish this while remaining perfectly invisible, you probably need to fire your client. They're not going to be happy with anything you produce.

If instead this "requirement" to shoot so many shots that you drain multiple power packs and balk at the time it takes to change even once is coming from within, your client is probably right: you are causing a nuisance at the wedding, not blending into the background as is proper. The wedding is not about you.

Minimising lights to one unit where sungun and strobe be used on a single stand.

Single-source light is what you use for dramatic art pics. Chiaroscuro kind of stuff. It is not what you want for portraiture.

If you absolutely cannot have a second light, at the very least allow yourself some kind of bounce. Use a background stand to hold some muslins, or tape the muslins to a nearby wall, or get an intern to hold up a large light disc so as to bounce the main light back to the other side of the subjects.

If your posted venue photo is accurate, trying to use room lighting as your fill is going to create a color temperature mess. You'll have bluish flash/strobe light on one side of your subjects' faces, and dark yellow light on the other. Yuck.


There are many traditional conservative practices and ceremonies that do not mix well with modern recording equipment. The problems may be poses, lighting, or other issues. The reason might be a simple as, "It isn't done."

When this has happened to me, I have been successful in staging a second "virtual" ceremony for the "camera" and posterity with more suitable gear.

This doesn't mean that you must ignore the actual ceremony; but, add a second one for critical situations to record more favourably.

Even television shows before an audience are staged more than once to capture details not always shown in an original recording.


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