Lighting question


TPF Noob!
Sep 15, 2010
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Hi folks,

I'm new to the forum and a newbie photographer. I have promised a friend that as a wedding gift, I'd set up a small photobooth at their wedding reception. I already have the booth area designed and the backdrop is black "muslin". The camera I'm using is a Canon Rebel XSi and I'm connecting it to my Mac using some remote capture software.

The only thing I'm not sure about is lighting. Most of the booths I've researched have some sort of softbox or a large flat plastic diffuser. The ambient lighting will be dim in the restaurant. What should I use for a flash?

I've read of some people using a "mono-light" with a softbox. Others used a flash mounted directly to the camera with a Larry Fong type diffuser.

Being a one time deal, I don't want to spend a ton on the lighting. Is it possible to use a camera mount type flash as a slave and combine it with a softbox on a stand?

Any help would be mucho appreciated.

Welcome to the forum.

I moved this out of the 'Digital' area, as this has nothing to do with Digital. ;)

The options for lighting are endless. You could use an on-camera flash or an off-camera flash, or a combination of both.
A softbox would be a good choice, as it can give you nice soft light while keeping the light in the direction where you want it. An umbrella, on the other hand, will also give you soft light, but spill it everywhere, which might not go well with a black background.

There are also several options for the type of light you can use. You could use a constant type light (tungsten, halogen, flourecent etc.) but those usually the best choice when shooting people. I find it much better to use flash. So with flash, you can choose between studio 'strobe' type lights or 'hot shoe' type flash units. Either type can be mounted onto a light stand.

You could probably rent studio equipment in most major cities.

Now will all that said....all that gear won't do you much good if you don't know how to use it. Portrait lighting is a skill that does take some time to learn and much longer to master. It's not just as simple as setting up a light and pointing it at people.

So whatever you decide to do, I'd strongly suggest that you give yourself a chance to practice beforehand.

Lastly, you might also consider the best way for you to go about this. What I mean is that rather than setting up a 'photo booth', you might be better off just finding a location in or around the location that already has good lighting or at least a location where you can keep things bouncing an on-camera flash off of a wall or the ceiling.
Thanks for the advice Mike. My sister is set on the photobooth concept and I have to admit, after attending another wedding this past summer where a photobooth was rented, it's a lot of fun. There's something about pulling that curtain and then waiting for the countdown.

thanks again
Ya, I shot a wedding where they had rented an actual booth and the guests loved it.
I have also talked to many photographers who have set up their own booth / studio area.
It can certainly be a lot of fun.

As this will be your project, you may need to decide what to focus on. One would be the quality of the photos. If this is your primary focus, you'll need to concentrate on good lighting etc. But it's quite possible that the 'fun factor' and recording the guests, may be more important. So in this case, you may want to concentrate on things like props and ideas to liven up the experience for those involved.

And of course, there's nothing to say that you can't do both...get great images and make it really fun. But you may have to make one a priority.

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