How night portraits can save your wedding day // Night Wedding Portraits

Have you ever been shooting a wedding where things were running behind or the weather was gross?? If you have been lucky enough to avoid the above scenario, there will come a day where you get next to no quality time for portraits and have to get creative.


First, let me make it clear that we never rely on ONLY shooting just night portraits as our plan A. Our brand and our brides expect bright and beautiful sunset portraits but sometimes that can just not happen. When that is the case, we don't freak out, because we know we can always do some pictures at night during the reception. Many times, brides even request night portraits or I just want to do some for fun. For a wedding photographer, shooting at night is an important skill to have. Here is how you can get started!

We use these Yongnuo flashes, they are inexpensive and easy to use. They use radio waves to trigger so they don't have to be within line of sight like optical flashes. Also, we always shoot on manual, it is just more consistent and easier to figure out where the light is coming from that way. I am going to tell you my camera and flash settings but every lighting situation is different and I rarely shoot night portraits with the same exact settings.

 I don't like to pull the bride and groom out from their wedding for a long time so I usually go outside and scout my location and get set up before I pull them out. Once I find the spot I want, I set my camera for the ambient light (the light that I do not produce with my flashes) I make sure and keep my shutter speed below 1/200th or else it wont capture your flash (unless you have special flashes) 

Shutter: 1/125          ISO: 400          Aperture: F/2.8

Shutter: 1/125          ISO: 400          Aperture: F/2.8

After I get the ambient light correct, I place camera on a tripod and my two bare flashes on light stands and I go inside to find a cute couple :)

I have the couple stand and I turn on channel A (the rear flash)
I adjust the back light to a level I like (usually around 1/16 power)


Then I turn on channel B and get my main light looking good (usually less power than the back light like 1/32)
Try to avoid shooting above 1/8 power. The reason for that is because with most flashes, once you're at 1/4 power or above, your flash takes a bit to recharge and you may miss your shot. If you need more light, get your light closer to the subject or turn up your ISO. 

Once I get the main flash where I want it, I take a few seconds to take some good photos of my models and then I head inside to grab the bride and groom.

When they come outside, everything is all set and it literally takes less than 2 minutes to get “the shot” and then they can go back in and party :)


Once you understand how to use flash, night portraits can be a great tool to add to your wedding day arsenal. If you are not confidant with your flashes, I offer one on one photo lessons and mentoring where I can teach you all about on and off camera flash. Click here for more info on mentor sessions as well as many other FREE photography resources.


I think it is important to note that most all night portraits with the stars AND flash are photoshopped in some way. In order to capture stars, you have to capture a lot of light. If your camera is set to capture the faint light from the stars, a flash will completely blow out your subject unless you use a whole lot of neutral density filters over your flash to cut down the power (a flash can only be turned down so much) So what I usually do is put my camera on a tripod and take a picture exposing for the stars  (before the couple comes out) then I leave my camera in the same place and turn on my flashes to expose for the bride and groom after they come outside. Then I just stack the photos in photoshop and mask out the sky to reveal the stars of the other image below. 
If you want more information on shooting night portraits, check out my Youtube Video below. 

4 Reasons why you should shoot film

I really love shooting film, you should too. Here are 4 reasons why. 


First, I am NOT a film expert. I would not even consider myself a film photographer. However, I have shot some sessions entirely on film with good results and I learned film photography in the 90s... So I guess that counts?? Because of my basic understanding of film, it has really helped me grow as a digital photographer. Here are 4 reasons why YOU need to shoot film, even if your client never knows!

1.    It (can be) cheap and fun! I bought my first Nikon film camera online for $15. I bought a roll of film from the local camera store for a few dollars and I started shooting. I sent it off, got scans back, and for less than $30 I shot a roll of film. It was so fun!

2.    It helps you SLOW DOWN. When shooting digital, it is easy to “spray and pray” You just hold down the button, fire off 10 frames and hope you get one keeper. With film, you are forced to slow down and take your time with every shot. When I shoot a session on film, I deliver about 75% of my images, when I shoot digital, it’s less than 25%.
Plus, when I go back to shooting digital, I am more careful and intentional with my shooting, saving me time in post processing and helping me capture really great moments.

3.    Post processing. When I shoot digital, I shoot the session, load all the images on my computer, cull through and store 100% of them but only choose and edit about 25%, save them, upload them, and deliver them. When I shoot film, I shoot the session, mail the film off, receive the scans, MAYBE edit a few of them, then simply send the images to the client. The workflow and post processing is easier and faster... 

4.    Back to the basics. When shooting film, you can not review your shot every frame, so you have to know what you are doing in order to get good results. You have to think about your shutter being fast enough to not cause motion blur, your focus being spot on, the direction / quality of light, and of course, your exposure has to be correct. When shooting on film, you really think about what is going on. When you go back to digital, you will instinctively be thinking of these things. 

5.    BONUS: All the hipsters are doing it. There is something organic and satisfying about seeing your work on a piece of film rather than just on a screen.

Like I said, I am not a film photographer, but I do enjoy shooting the occasional session on film or shooting a roll of medium format during a wedding.
Have you shot film? What has been your experience?

Developing your own film is fun, but the equipment can be costly & there is a learning curve :) 

Developing your own film is fun, but the equipment can be costly & there is a learning curve :) 

P.S. For free online photography education videos as well as in person workshops, click HERE, and be sure to follow along with us via and links below :) 

Real Estate Photography & Tips for Shooting Inside Houses

With digital cameras and even phones getting better and better as well as cheaper and cheaper, many realtors are choosing to shoot their own properties rather than hiring a professional. I am going to give you a few quick tips on how to shoot rooms in their best “light.”
Get it, best light…. Hahahaha

If you would rather watch than read, click the play button on the house below to watch me photograph a house.

First. Turn OFF all the lamps and overhead lights!!! Mixed lighting usually looks gross.
Turn them off. All of them.

See the difference in the photos with lamps vs. the ones with just natural light??

If the room is super dark, you may have to shoot with a tripod in order to avoid motion blur.

Second tip, open all the blinds and maybe even the doors. The more natural light, usually the better :)

Use a wide lens. A wider lens make rooms look bigger :)

One of the most important things is image editing / post processing. You really should edit your photos with image editing software before sharing them. 

Follow these few tips and your images will look brighter and more inviting!

If you have an amazing house that you need captured in the best possible way, I would love to show you want I can create. I am a full time photographer based in central Virginia that offers aerial photos, 360° photos, virtual tours, still photos, time lapse, and highlight videos. I can often shoot images any day of the week and usually upload your photos within 24 hours... all for a price that is very affordable.

Virtual Tour