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Off camera flash at a wedding

On a relaxed outdoor photo session when I'm not pushed for time, I almost always use off camera flash - manual speedlight in a softbox on a light stand.

I very rarely use it when shooting a wedding though, mainly because I feel it's just not practical to carry it around with me, takes time to set up between shots, and I don't have an assistant.

I have a Canon 600ex-rt which is used on camera for both TTL bounce & fill flash, or not at all if I'm just using natural light.

I know I can get this off camera and use it TTL, so that would make life a little easier, but again it's the practicality of carrying everything around with me, plus the weather conditions may not be suitable if it's breezy.

So does anyone have any advice or tips on the practical side of using off camera flash at a wedding?


  • The past couple of years, I bring an assistant to help with the gear etc...but at one point I did work alone. What I find is communication is key with the client on the timeline. Explain to them that leaving a little extra time is in the best interests of all. I do realize that is not always possible, so that does make it harder of course. With that said,  I usually pre set off camera lighting on the main location that was chosen for formals. Then tear it down during "lulls" in the festivities. For example, say If I know I am doing formals outside the church on the grounds. I will leave the getting ready location 10 min early and arrive at the church and set up lighting real quick. Go inside and  shoot the ceremony and then go outside and do the formals. By the time the Bride and Groom kiss babies, chat with guests, I have it all torn down and ready to go. (Knock on wood, I have never had a problem with theft of equipment but I am sure that is always a possibility.) PS....Pro tip 1.  Use a small dumbbell as a weight and its fast to use... Pro tip 2. Easy Boxes or Beauty dishes are fast to set up. Pro tip 3. Loose all the wires. I spent years fighting with them! We have since broke up!

    Hope that helps a tad!

  • I tend to find that off camera flash isn't practical for most of the time at a wedding. I use it for the dancing shots, and if the lighting is shitty, the speeches as well.

    For the formals, I will avoid it unless there is no choice, in which case we'll have to pause for a moment. I tend to find there is a natural gap in proceedings so as long as I know I will need it, there is time if necessary.
  • Thanks for the feedback so far.
    Although my preference is manual flash, I think I'll dismiss this when shooting weddings.

    I've just bought the Yongnuo equivalent of my Canon 600EX-RT, and first impressions of controlling it as a slave flash are quite positive.

    I have Neil's Craftsy video on the b&g portrait session, and I like the idea of having the flash and softbox on a monopod, with an assistant. My wife has accompanied me on a couple of weddings in the past so that might be the best option as I really do want to incorporate TTL OCF into my wedding portraits, without slowing things down.

  • Yep, the flash on a stick works well if you have an assistant.
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