How to Set Up a Nighttime Portrait in 9 Seconds

Nine seconds. That’s all the time you have to set up a portrait of the bride and the groom. A tired bride and groom, at that. You have to be precise about the exposure, the light, and the pose. You also need to make sure that you don’t fool around and make an already long day even longer. Of course the right tools will help. But you need to know how to use those tools. Vanessa Joy explains:

For this shot Joy used two Profoto B1s with TTL, which allowed the power settings to be adjusted wirelessly and quickly. She instructed her  assistant to hold the backlight (in the middle of the street), and she placed the key light on camera left.

Even while instructing the bride and the groom where to stand, Joy was already setting the exposure on her 1D X Mark II using live-view. She then set the lights to TTL and did a test shot very quickly.

set up a night time portrait in 9 seconds

According to Joy, the first shot came out too warm and bright. So, after a little adjustment of white balance and exposure she took a second shot.

portrait photography at night

She took only two shots after the first one, just to ensure that she had at least one in sharp focus. Sometimes even when shooting with a strobe it’s possible to miss focus, especially when using a wide open aperture.

Here’s the final versions that Joy shared with her clients.

fast portrait setup

Pretty great for just three quick shots!

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