Bridal Portraits with Off Camera Flash

Join me during this workshop in London where we work on location with off camera flash during a bridal portrait session. In this tutorial, I will show you how quickly and easily you can use flash to create extremely unique looking portraits for your wedding clients and wedding portfolio.

Equipment Used:


Photographer: Sal Cincotta 
Model: Aistė 
Hair & Makeup: Brandi Patton, Refine Beauty

Ready to do on location bridal portraits using off camera flash. Let’s get to it. All right, so we’ve got a lot of noise going on behind us. There’s people talking, they’re Nikon photographers, which is why they talk while we’re rolling. Ooh. Burn. So what we’re doing today is we are using the FJ200 with the trigger grip. That is not the official Westcott term for this, but we are changing it to the Sal Cincotta trigger grip. I like that term. Westcott, change your product name, you’ll sell more products. Okay, we’re going to do is we’re going to use this. We are in London. We’ve got a lot of traffic. We’ve got to move quickly. And so one of the things to shooting with off-camera flash when it’s daylight out is you’re going to more than likely kick into high-speed sync with your camera. So one of the things I want you guys to try at home, if you’re going to do this, is you don’t want to make your flash work too hard, is you want to put it to ISO low.

So for Sony, Nikon shooters and Canon shooters. Canon, it’ll typically be in your extended menu to extend your ISO range and you push it to 50, which is one stop less than 100. And the reason you want that is because it’s going to save you one stop of power on your lights. So your lights working less, it recycles faster, all those good things. But we want to be in high speed sync because I don’t want to photograph this at F11 F16 to get my shutter speed below 200th of a second. Anything above 200th of a second is considered high speed sync. And I want to do that because I want a shallow depth of field here. So I really want it to look milky and separate our subject from the background. So that’s what we’re going to do. Let’s stop talking about it. Let’s get to it.

Underexposed 2 stops

Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/3200, ISO 50

Underexposed 3 stops

Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/3200, ISO 50
There’s a two-step process to making this work to get the right portrait. The first thing you want to do is take the trigger off your camera, forget about your flash, and take a picture where you are underexposing your background. And so what I’m going to do here is just take a picture of the background even though there’s people in here. Compositionally, it doesn’t have to look right. I’m just trying to get camera to look right. So I’ve underexposed on camera, almost two stops, and what that’s doing is giving me all the clouds. I don’t want to lose the cloud detail and making it look a little bit more dark and dramatic. So that’s underexposed by two stops. I can try by three to see what this is looking like and you see on camera. Three stops, we lose some of the shadow details. So I think I’m going to shoot this at two. After I get it at two stops underexposed, now I’m going to introduce flash to this.
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/6400, ISO 50
bridal portraits 5
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/6400, ISO 50

So the camera’s exposing for the scene, the sky, the secondary element, which is usually a mountain, a church or something in the background. And the flash is going to expose for your subject, which is going to be our bride in this case. Speaking of which, let’s turn around and our bride is taking selfies. Oh yeah, it’s not a selfie. She should take a selfie, flip the camera and take a selfie that you can give them. And so that’s what we’re trying to do here. So now that I’ve got my camera dialed in and I am an aperture priority, I love shooting that way, you’ll see it’s easier. Give it a try. All right. Ice, I’m going to have you right there. Let’s get somebody holding this flash. What we’re doing here is now we’ve got this light high.

bridal portraits 4
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/2000, ISO 50
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/6400, ISO 50
I’m firing it down in an angle. I want fall off. I want harsh light. I don’t care about light spill for this particular shot. It’s the look I’m going for here. She’s going to be lit, but it’s going to be dark and moody. But I’m also going to use this as a frame off for her. So I’m going to take this shot from in here.
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/3200, ISO 50
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/2000, ISO 50
All right guys, that’s a wrap. So that, in my opinion, remember two things take away for you is your camera should be exposing for the scene, right? So underexpose the scene, that’s how you get that dark look. And then use flash to expose your subject, and within two or three test frames, you’ll be able to get the look you want. In this case, we’re in high speed sync because I wanted that shallow depth of field and I wanted flash to pop her off. I also didn’t use any light modifiers on this. Again, these were decisions I’m making because I wanted a hard contrasty light. So you’ll light those portraits however you want. Just keep in mind when you add a soft box or things like that to your light source, it’s going to lose power. So you’ll use a stop or two of light firing it through diffusion panels. So being here outside with an FJ200, I wanted a really punchy contrasty light to get that look. Hopefully you like it. We’ll see you in the next video.
bridal photography with off camera flash 1 1
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/6400, ISO 50
bridal portraits with off camera flash 5 1
Settings: f/2.8 @ 1/6400, ISO 50

Leave a Reply

Want more content like this?

Check out our recent posts

on camera direct flash tutorial thumbnail

On Camera Direct Flash Tutorial

Have you tried using on-camera flash for your studio portraits? As a professional photographer, I’ve always been taught to take the flash off camera to create more directional light. In this video of on camera direct flash tutorial for lighting, I will show you how to work quickly and easily using on-camera flash to create some very unique and interesting portraits.

Read More »
5 easy poses for boudoir photography thumbnail

5 Easy Poses for Boudoir Photography

Posing for boudoir photography is always a challenge. In this video, I will show you some easy tips to posing your clients. Not every client is a model – so we need to find an easy set of poses to get them started. Once they get comfortable in front of the camera, you can then work on more advanced poses and lighting techniques to build on for the images you create.

Read More »