There is a common trend and fashion in using a flash off the camera, i.e. having the flash in any position/location other than on top of the camera, and whilst off camera flash techniques will yield some great shots there are occasions when you will get the best results going back to the old skool and mounting the flash gun on the camera’s hot shoe, and taking photographs at a wedding reception is one of those occasions.
Whilst it is possible to place some off camera flashes and lights at a wedding reception it is not a good idea. With a lot of people in relatively small spaces there is a good possibility there simply isn't room for your lighting equipment, and even if there is room there is a good chance one of the wedding guests may knock on to your expensive lighting equipment sending the whole lot crashing to the ground, and I am sure you wouldn’t want this to happen.
Because of the problems explained above it is best to keep the flash on the camera, or at least attached to the camera using a flash bracket when assigned to take photos at a wedding reception. Many photographers argue you can’t get good photographs using a flash on the camera, however this is utter trash and it is more than possible to capture stunning photographs using the flash gun on the camera’s hot shoe.
Off camera flash is used for dramatic lighting and artistic effects, which in reality, are not required when taking photographs at wedding receptions. Sure, photographs with dramatic lighting look cool but there is little call for them at wedding receptions. Most bride and grooms want realistic and “non-arty” photographs of their guests enjoying themselves at the wedding reception.
As long as the wedding photographs are correctly exposed, sharp and are a true representation of what the occasion was like, that is all that matters. I mean, the bride and groom will not want to look back at their wedding reception photographs future years and see photographs with dramatic lighting effects that don’t truly show what the wedding reception was like.
When taking wedding reception photographs you need a powerful flash gun and should use the most powerful one you can find. Whilst you may not always need to use the full power of the top end flash guns it is comforting to know the power is there if you need it. Besides, it is better to have too much power and use a flash at half power rather than use a less power flash gun at full power.
When using a flash gun at full power the recycle times, i.e. the times it takes for the flash gun to become ready to use again once a shot has been taken, are slow and this can create a few problems. Using a flash at full power also works the flash gun hard and will reduce its life.
The top end Canon and Nikon branded flash guns are powerful but they are also very expensive and it can be difficult to justify the cost of them. Fortunately, there are cheaper alternatives that are just as good and even better in some circumstances such as the Godox Ving V860, which is a flash gun I use for my photography and highly recommend.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.