on camera flash

Tips for Shooting on Camera Flash

Filed in For Photographers — April 27, 2023


Ways to Use Your Speedlight at Receptions


If you’re a wedding photographer, you know how important it is to be able to shoot at night. You need to be able to capture the ceremony when everyone’s dressed up and looking their best and well into the evening when the best man may or may not have had one too many drinks before his embarrassing speech. Here are my tips for shooting using your speedlight on camera at a wedding reception:

As Always, Shoot in RAW Format

I know this isn’t exactly flash photography related, but it’s super important to note! The reason for this is that you will be able to recover more detail in the highlights and shadows with a RAW file than you can with a JPEG file. This gives you more control over your final image and allows you to make adjustments that are not possible in JPEG format.

Use a Diffuser to Soften the Light

When you’re shooting with flash, you can use a diffuser to soften the light. A diffuser will make your flash look more like natural light and less like a harsh spotlight. There are many kinds of diffusers available; some are made from fabric while others come as attachments that slide onto your existing flash. If you want to experiment with different types of diffusers before buying one, try using an inexpensive reflector disc or piece of white poster board as a makeshift diffuser instead!

I own the MagMod Flash Diffuser and love it!

Try a Bounce Flash Technique

Bounce flash can be used to create a softer, more flattering light. It’s also helpful for providing more natural-looking photos than direct on-camera flash.

To set up bounce flash, position your flash so that the light will reflect off of a white object (like the ceiling or a wall) and back onto your couple’s faces. This will give them a flattering glow without washing out their features with the harsh shadows or harsh highlights that can be seen in direct flash.

Play with Direct Flash for a Timeless and Fun Vibe

Direct flash is great for a timeless, fun reception vibe… especially if you’re shooting at night. 

To shoot direct flash, point the light directly at your subject. I like to turn my flash to TTL for this one, which is basically an “automatic” setting for your flash. Since what I’m shooting at the reception (specifically on the dance floor) is constantly moving and the distance there is between myself and my subjects is changing, the TTL setting will select your flash power for you.

Use Shutter Drag for Creative Party Vibes

One trick is to create light trails on the dance floor to really emphasize the party vibe and bring in a little creativity. For this, you can use an ISO of 100, a slow shutter speed (start at 1/6 of a second) and a high aperture (start at f16 and go down depending on your light). You’ll want to be sure your speedlight is on “front curtain sync” for this as well. Point your flash directly at the subject and moving your camera around when you press the shutter. The movement will create light trails around your subject, while the flash freezes your subject in the frame.


Wedding receptions are a great place to experiment with flash photography, as long as you do it safely. You can get some really fun shots by playing around with the different types of light and experimenting with different techniques. If you have any questions about how to use your camera flash at a wedding reception, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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