The best wedding photography flash will depend on your specific circumstances and whether you have the chance to set up a portable studio with an array of different lights, or whether you are more mobile and shoot off the cuff. Confused? Let me try to explain what I am going on about…………..
Even though I have shot quite a few weddings over the years as the official wedding photographer I have to admit I try not to be the official wedding photographer nowadays. Being the official wedding photographer is tough, and there is a lot of responsibility (and hence pressure) taking the official wedding photos. After all, you only get one chance and if you blow it you not only damage your reputation as any sort of photographer (and not just a wedding photographer), but also potentially ruin the day for the happy couple.
Nowadays my wedding photography consists of candid wedding photography where I work as an “extra” to the official wedding photographer. Where the official wedding photographer will set up an array of lighting equipment (aka a portable studio), pose the wedding guests and compose shots, my style is a run and gun. Sure, I get guests to pose but my style is to catch the guests on the fly, ask them to pose/smile/do whatever they want, take a photo or four (I always shoot in burst mode) and move on to the next photo opportunity.
Candid wedding photography requires mobility, which means I have to travel light and be able to carry all of my photography kit in one bag. Because of this my wedding photography flash comprises individual speed lights.
The speed light I use as my wedding photography flash is the Godox Ving, which is a Chinese branded flash. There was a time when I used a Canon speed light, a Canon 600EX, but due to unforeseen circumstances it broke. At the time I needed a replacement wedding photography flash and having little money I couldn’t rustle up the funds to buy a new Canon 600EX so I was forced to buy a cheaper alternative, and ended up buying the Godox Ving. When I ordered the Ving I was sceptical, however after using it for a few shoots I realised what a gem it was and promptly ordered three more (the total of which was less than one 600EX flash), and I haven’t looked back since. The Ving is just as powerful and has the same features as the Canon 600EX but it uses a single cell battery (no more AA batteries and chargers laying around), is user friendly and intuitive, and did I mention far cheaper?
I don’t just carry one Godox Ving as a wedding photography flash, I carry three of them so I always have a spare and can also use two at the same time if needed (i.e. one on camera and hand holding the second). I usually keep the flash on camera when I take candid wedding photos, however there are times when I will take it off camera and hand hold it. When I take the flash off camera I fire it using the Yongnu 622 flash triggers and transmitter, as opposed to using an off camera flash cord (which would get in the way and be more trouble than its worth).
Whenever I use a wedding photography flash I use it in ETTL (i.e. automatic) mode and will tweak the power using flash exposure compensation as necessary. In these situations there is no point in messing around trying to set the power manually because there is not time (the guest will get bored standing around waiting for me to set everything up) and because the subject to flash distance constantly changes I would have to change the power with every shot. Taking candid wedding photos is one of those times when you do not use manual flash – period.
Flash light can be harsh and unflattering therefore I always use some kind of light modifier to soften the light. I have a small speed light mounted soft box, which is useful but it is quite big and cumbersome. Most of the time I use a plastic Stofen style diffuser to soften the light, and this generally works very well.
As you can see my wedding photography flash equipment is pretty minimal but that’s the way I shoot now and you really don’t need a lot of equipment for the candid wedding photography services I now provide.
The Godox Ving is my wedding photography flash of choice
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.