FAQ: Nighttime Photo Shoot Lighting ~ Video Lights ~ Chicago Elopement Photographer

This question has been coming up a lot lately, and now that I have a bit more time I thought I’d share our nighttime photo shoot lighting tips! We recently added some new video lights to our arsenal and it is wonderful how great they have been for getting us out of tricky lighting situations! Whether it is shooting details in a dim reception room, trying to catch focus of people dancing on a black-hole of a dance floor, or shooting an elopement outdoors at midnight – these lights have been so versatile and helpful!

The video lights we own are:

Comer CM-LBPS-1800 On Camera LED Light

Fotodiox Pro LED Video Light

We bought the Comer light first as a recommendation from a friend. While it works great for help lighting candlelit table decorations and catching focus on dance floors… I don’t love it for much else. Ever since we got the Fotodiox light (which is way cheaper!) we’ve been using that as our go-to video light instead when we need one. It works great for portraits and lighting wider spaces (because it doesn’t spotlight like the Comer one does), and we have more than gotten our money’s worth from this little guy!

Here are some examples of different photos where we used these lights in various ways to give you a better idea of how you can use them!


The photo below of Nora and Jeff’s winter wedding we used the Comer video light (back before we had the Fotodiox) to light the front of Nora and Jeff and an off-camera flash on a stand behind them triggered by a pocket wizard on my camera to back-light the scene. (James stood to my right and lit them with the Comer video light for fill light and so I could focus!)

Chicago winter wedding photos

We used the same technique for Luke and Laura’s wedding this September…



For this midnight elopement we used the Comer to back-light them (off camera right behind the couple) and the Fotodiox light as a fill light to light the front.

nighttime downtown chicago elopement


For Shannon and Michael’s wedding, the dance floor was so dark we were having a really hard time focusing – so James threw the Fotodiox up on a light stand (opposite from the off-camera flash on the other side of the room) and turned it on just bright enough to help us catch focus. We still shot with an on-camera flash and off-camera flash separate from the video light. (In this instance – we just used it to catch focus, so none of the main light in this photo is the video light.)



At Brian and Deeya’s wedding we used the Fotodiox to light the cake! They had this gorgeous gold beading and so James held the video light to camera left to create some dimension in the image on the cake and really show the detail.



At Tanya and Greg’s plantation house wedding in Hawaii, the entryway where dancing took place was so small that using our normal off-camera lighting set-up was a little too bright/overwhelming for the space. Instead, we set up both of the video lights opposite each other in the room and used the Fotodiox as the main light, and the Comer as a backlight.



At Trisha and Sean’s wedding, we used the Fotodiox to light the room from afar to get some detail photos of the room (off camera right).



Also at their wedding, we used the Fotodiox to light them from the front for these bride and groom portraits outdoors since they did not see each other until sunset at the ceremony. (We used our off-camera lighting set-up for the back-light in these.)



And last, but not least, we used the Comer video light to help with some table detail shots this past Saturday at Ji and Steve’s intimate wedding! The tables were candlelit, so we didn’t want to use a light that would spill across the whole table. Instead, we only needed to target the floral arrangement on the right, because it was not being lit by candle or spotlight like everything else. James stood to camera right and focused the light just on the flowers to even it out with the light that was already on the rest of the table.



I hope this helped you guys to get an idea of how we utilize our video lights in conjunction with our off-camera light set-up to troubleshoot tricky lighting situations at night! Please let me know if you have any questions about any of it! xo! 🙂


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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!