This is because most of the photos seen online from many wedding photographers portfolio's only feature examples of the couples portraits and the reality of the situation are that the couple's portrait time represents a VERY small portion of the overall photo delivery on your wedding day. When capturing couples portraits, your photographer has control (usually) of the shooting location and lighting conditions, however, that is usually not the case when it comes to the wedding ceremony and more often during the reception.
Common wedding ceremony and reception venues such as Hotel banquet facilities, barns, cavernous ballrooms, dark backyards and event halls are all potentially "challenging" lighting situations to some photographers who may not be trained on how to use a flash properly or have access to high quality fast low light lenses. The simple truth is that most professional photographers can shoot using "natural" or "available light", but if your wedding reception takes place in a dark venue or outside at night, it’s VERY important to know ahead of time if your photog can use a flash properly. If not, your reception photos might not have that bright, clean, well-exposed feel to them. There is a possibility that your photos could look grainy or miscolored and can be blurry due to overexposure or slow shutter speed (to make up for the lack of light).
The approach your photographer takes when capturing "candid" photographs at a wedding reception matters too! Ask if they shoot in a "hands-off" style or more of a posed “say cheese” manner. If your preference leans more to a candid style of photographer, you can easily figure out if you’ve made a good match by judging the behavior of the wedding guests featured in the photographer's portfolio of wedding reception images. If the guests are interacting with one another and unaware that the photo was taken, then you’ve found your photog! 😊
To help ensure that my clients receive photos that are truly candid in nature, about 99.9999999% of the time that I am photographing their wedding day, I will be using my 70-200 zoom lens and will hang out along the edges of the reception venue in full on 'photo-ninja-mode capturing candid photos of the couple and their guests having fun without them knowing I was anywhere in the area. (yes, this is fun!) I also use a wider lens to take pictures of the people tearing it up on the dance floor and I'm not afraid to get in there to capture your friends and family up close while they do the Wobble or Cupid Shuffle. (yes, this is also fun, haha!)
For your consideration, here are a few examples of my own work at various indoor and outdoor wedding receptions. As you will see, most of the time I do use a flash because the majority of the reception party venues that I take pictures at are indoors (often with little or no natural light) or outside at night well after the sun sets.
The next few images were captured at dusk. It was already pretty dark outside because this reception was held in the backyard which was in the shadow of the house. I shot these images using my zoom lens and my flash so that the photos showed everyone's faces clearly.
The next few photos were taken at the same wedding around 10 pm, well into the night with no outside light source other than the rope lights and sconces on the patio.
This is what it would look like if I did not have a flash. As you can see, the effect can look pretty cool but it wouldn't be practical to forgo the flash the entire night.
These photos were captured in an event venue with blue walls. Using my flash as a lighting source allows me to color correct my images to the proper tone on the spot. If I did not use my flash everyone would have a bluish cast of color over them. Like wedding Smurfs. lol!
These images were captured at the VA Dare Ballroom in downtown Raleigh. The venue is beautiful inside but presents a challenge lighting and color wise due to the HUGE floor to ceiling windows on one side of the venue that filter in green light during the daytime and the very intense orange lighting from the chandeliers that hang from the ceilings and walls. I used my flash to ensure that the people's skin tones were correct and that this (darkish) cavernous venue was properly illuminated once the sun went down.
In the photo below, this is what all of the photos would look like at the VA Dare Ballroom if didn't use my flash and tried to shoot in "available light".
If this is your taste, rock on! Maybe you're into the orange toned skin look.
I prefer otherwise.
The following venue (Chicora Golf Club) was lit only by candlelight and chandeliers ( light dimmed waaaaaay down ) hanging throughout the small venue. This series of photos were taken at around 7:30 at night in December, well after sunset so the venue was very dark inside.
This next series of photos were captured on a rainy afternoon at an outdoor wedding. Although these photos were taken outside I used my flash here to fill in the shadows that the cloudy conditions produced under the canopy on the back porch where the reception took place.
This last set of reception photos were taken in the event hall at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cary NC. This venue had no natural light whatsoever and was only lit by the blue colored wall up-lights, table spotlights and, the DJ's dance floor lights. It was super dark! Turned out great for me though because I had my flash and thus was able to take some excellent candid shots of this amazing wedding reception party without a problem.
Pictured in the image below is what it would look like here if I did not have my flash with me. The white light is great but it's just a spotlight over the tables so if something cool happens outside of that light radius I'd be screwed without my flash.
If you'd like to check out more examples contained the rest of my wedding reception portfolio visit
Lastly, if you compare my reception photo pictures to the rest of my style of photos captured at a wedding including the couples portraits, the ceremony and the get ready portion of time, you would see that my exposures, color, and clarity is pretty consistent throughout any wedding day, no matter where I am at or what time of the day it is. To see what I mean check out my full wedding photography portfolio below...
If you have any questions about the photo's that are featured in this post or would like to discuss the possibility of me photographing your own wedding day here in NC please contact me anytime!
Investment information regarding Silvercord Event Photography's Raleigh engagement and wedding photography price and service packages may be found here.