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  • Grace Williamson

Flash Dance! - Off Camera Flash for First Dance

The first dance is an iconic moment for the bride and groom. Everyone is watching them bust a move, or just slowly sway from side to side. Whatever the style, capturing this intimate moment is important.

I have done one first dance shoot, and beforehand I researched how to nail it. Pretty much all the advise I read said the same thing - lighting is key!

It is possible to use natural light and on-camera flash for the first dance - and if that's your style then kudos! I decided to use off-camera flash as my choice.

The dance floor was not large, and was positioned next to a white wall of the marquee and next to the band. I placed my speedlites at the back by the wall, one in each corner of the dancefloor, pointing to the centre. This kept them out the way of the dancers, and enabled me to have one hit the side of the couple and one to give a rim light.

For the most part, I stood in line with the flash in the far corner and the other flash is at a right angle to me.

(Not to scale)

Now, currently both my flashes are not fancy. They cost me £30-£40 each. I would love to get a couple of Cactus RF-60 X to work with, but right now these cheaper ones suffice. I set them both to slave mode, but one had my wireless receiver connected too. This let me use just those two flashes for the close-up shots, and also to use bounce flash when there were more people on the dance-floor and I had my wide angle lens on. My triggers are Hanhal HL Captur ones for Olympus/Panasonic. There are also Nikon and Canon ones available.

The speedlite to the left of the camera lit up the couple, and the flash directly opposite gave a nice rim light and burst of light. The detail of the bride's hair was accentuated, and the groom's face was lit up. Unfortunately, they did not turn enough for me to get the bride from the front.

I also had shots where the bride or groom's head completely blocked the flash opposite me. This exaggerated the rim light and stopped the big glow.

For a first time photographing a first dance, I am pleased with how the pictures came out. I learned a lot on the day, and can't wait for my next one!

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