Wedding After Party
A dimly-lit bar seems like a great place to shoot some posed portraits; it’s not exactly the best place to try and photograph an energetic celebration. Nonetheless, this is exactly what I was asked to do at a post-wedding party being held at a Tokyo beer garden for a recently married couple.
I arrived at the beer garden prior to the start of the event to take a look around and see what I had to work with. It was exactly as to be expected: a dimly-lit bar with an even more dimly-lit outdoor terrace. I knew immediately that shooting with available light wasn’t going to produce much in the way of clear and sharp photos. I was going to have to add a little light of my own.
I immediately eliminated the option of using direct, camera-mounted flash. While there are exceptions, a photograph is going to look much better if the light hitting the subject is coming from anywhere other than straight on. Any person who has ever shot a photo with the built-in flash on their camera knows that direct flash is not a particularly desired look.
Bouncing the flash off a wall could have been an option, but I was to be photographing groups of people, which meant if I bounced the flash off a wall, those nearest to the wall would be more brightly lit than those farther from it. Plus, the walls were all wood paneling and dark in color, so it wasn’t going to work in any case.
So, I looked up. I was relieved to discover a silver-colored overhang above the exterior terrace, and a white ceiling inside the bar. I knew that by pointing my flash directly at the ceiling, I would be able to bounce the light from my flash and essentially use the ceiling as a very large reflector. Furthermore, everyone in any group shots to be taken would be evenly lit since the ceiling (light source) is the same distance from everyone in a frame.
With the lighting sorted, I set out to photograph the event. The goal was not to create some dramatically lit and posed shots, but rather it was to capture the joyous mood and feel of the event. This is not something that was terribly difficult to accomplish as people were already in a celebratory mood and fullyenjoying the evening. All that was required was a watchful eye to be on the lookout for those simple moments of laughter, cheerful conversations, genuine displays of emotion, and so on.
Here are a few select photos from the event: