All our photographers had event photography backgrounds prior to weddings so doing receptions and capturing the feel was pretty natural. I noticed that many wedding photographers were having difficulty with capturing the party atmosphere of the reception. True it can be that they like the look of a flash lighting up the room and freezing people in awkward positions.
The problem with receptions is when they turn down the lights and and then DJ lights turn on and many photographers are not sure what they should do. The beginner just turns on the flash and clicks away. That is fine but when the rest of the wedding photos are beautiful these generic reception photos will not make a great end to a book or slideshow. (Think about it... how many photographers have shown you the dancing photos (not just the father/daughter dance)
So one technique popular with event photographers we do is use a flash but with a show shutter speed of 1/10 - 1/20th of a second. As soon as I press the shutter release I zoom out or shake the lens or do a circle. This goes against everything we are taught about holding steady, breathing on... take the photo between heartbeats (really???).
Some photographers might think the image is blurry but the subject isn't and that is where we want the eye to be drawn to. The rest should just be shapes but not subjects.
What is created is a dynamic photo with movement and instant party atmosphere.
Now that flash did do something bad though... it lit up my subject too much. It totally blew out the DJ disco lights
The white balance should be set to custom but since I just change it after the fact.. no problem... just cool the image down with blue silver tone (working off the groom Dustin's tie for inspiration).
I liked the look for the photo though it really isn't screaming party. Here is one of the bride Lety. These are the fun photos. The sheer joy in the moment that it deserve every bit as much attention as any other part of the day.
I love the smile, I love Dustin getting down. Not happy about the heads taking away from our main subject and you can see the disco lights a bit in the background but they are no longer on the subject as the flash blew them out. I need them lights back to hide the effects of the flash.... so I put them back in photoshop by "Cloaking the photo" or "Cloak the photo". I really do not see many photographers doing this because their motto is "get it in camera" (ie. I can't figure out photoshop).
Or they don't want to put in too much time in these reception shots... but like I said, these photos deserve just as much attention. Now if I cloaked all 500 photos taking from the dance floor it will take too long. I will do this for the photos I want in a slideshow or book. I show the couple a completed one so they know the potential when selecting photos. When I am working on say 40 photos for a book it is not too much to ask to put a few minutes in photoshop to digitally restore DJ lights. The goal is to recreate what it looked like on the dance floor.
This is one of the ways to cloak the photo. All the time spending posing and lighting the traditional portraits these pictures capturing the happiness of the day are the ones that can become their personal favorites.