November 10, 2015

How to Light Toasts

FILED IN: photographers

Shooting toasts is one of those things that usually makes wedding photographers pretty hangry, as they normally fall in the middle of dinner when we haven’t eaten in 8+ hours, our food is sitting on the table, and we just need to pee. Without a game plan for how to shoot toasts, it’s easy to just document it without concern for gorgeous light so that you can quickly take your only break for the day, but with a plan, it’s a time to show off some stellar lighting skills and capture the emotions of your couple and their best friends and family members. In this post, I’ll show you how to light toasts to create dynamic, dramatic, directional light in your images.

maid of honor giving toast with dramatic lightfather of the bride giving toastbest man giving toast with dynamic light

I normally shoot the toasts with two off camera flashes and nothing on camera, as I really love dramatic and dynamic light. On one stand, I have a YN-560IV set to RX mode with a Westcott 26″ Rapidbox, about 8-10 feet high, angled slightly down. This stand goes either right in front of my couple, right in front of the person giving the toast, or ideally right between them so that they all have gorgeous, even light. The other stand has a YN-560IV set to RX mode, and I usually leave that one bare, but sometimes I’ll toss a magmod grid on it to narrow the beam of light. That one is placed behind the person giving the toast, but sometimes I don’t shoot with the kicker at all. I normally keep that one around 8 feet, although sometimes I do put it as low as possible for easy rim light. I trigger my flashes with the YN-560TX, which allows me to control the power + zoom for each flash from my camera.

lighting diagram for photographing wedding toasts

The cameras in the above diagram are the places I shoot from with this lighting setup. I normally shoot toasts with an 85 or a 70-200 while John covers them with a wide angle. To add even more visual interest to your toasts, try shooting through glasses on tables or candles, too!

Hope these tips make the toasts of your last few weddings of 2015 amazing! We’d love to see what you create, so be sure to post links in the comments!

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ashley fisher is a timeless, romantic, and editorial saint louis wedding photographer & CINEMATOGRAPHER serving the midwest & is available for destination weddings.

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