Tips + Techniques

Building on Lighting Setups, From One to Four Off-Camera Flashes

February 19, 2019

By Ruben Gorjian

© Ruben Gorjian

Wedding days bring me butterflies in my belly every single time, no matter how experienced I am. I like the challenge—I feed off of it.

You don’t have the luxury of time at weddings—everything has to be perfectly created in camera, which leaves little room for error. You have to master your exposure, posing and lighting because the key to be a successful wedding photographer is to have a consistent quality in your images in every single wedding. When potential clients look at your portfolio, they want to be assured that they’re hiring a photographer who can produce the same high quality on site.

People hire me for my style and for the creative ways I use off-camera flash. When I take my artistic portraits, I always try to be efficient with my equipment. When I have limited time available, I always carry a full MagMod lighting kit, a small umbrella and a speedlight.


This setup was very tricky. Even though this was shot indoors, the room had these huge windows. I decided to pull out two Godox speedlights, with a MagMod CTO gel and a MagMod grid on each of them.

I incorporated the CTO gels because the sun was setting, which was producing a very warm color. I wanted to match that color on my two speedlights and balanced it with my camera, adjusting the kelvin color.

I had my assistant and my second shooter hold the speedlights, one off-camera on the right side and the other on the left, both angled at 45 degrees.

I had to expose for the background as if it was an outdoor shoot, and pushed my speedlights to full power in order to properly expose the couple properly, trying not to have any light spill.

Camera: Sony Alpha 7R III
Lens: Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
Exposure: f/9 at 1/100 sec.
ISO: 125
Lighting: Two Godox speedlights (at 1/1 power), MagMod grids and CTO gels


When I teach my workshops, one thing I emphasize is to train yourself to previsualize your images, creating them in your head before you even pose your subjects.

When I walked into this room, I was immediately attracted by its colors and I could see in my mind how I wanted this image to look. This couple gave me carte blanche to do whatever I wanted because they loved my creativity, so I decided that I wanted a glamour feel for this portrait.

The problem I encountered was that this room’s ambient light was horrible. The red paint combined with the very yellow light coming from the chandelier and sconces made for an lopsidedly warm mixture.

My immediate priority was to balance this with the natural color emitted by my off-camera flash, which is very cold. I used my MagMod CTO gel to match the color and lowered the kelvin temperature on my camera to around 3500. Then I added a MagMod grid to control the spill of light. It was set up on a 7-foot stand at camera left, pointing down at 45 degrees.

Camera: Sony Alpha 7R III
Lens: Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
Exposure: f/3.2 at 1/60 sec.
ISO: 125
Lighting: Godox Speedlight, MagMod CTO gel and MagMod grid


The part of a wedding I really gravitate towards is the ceremony. There is so much love, true emotions and tears, and I always get amazing candid images and timeless moments.

To make these moments even more dramatic, you have to play with light and exposure.

Before the ceremony began, I had set up four Godox AD200 strobes, placing each on a 12-foot Manfrotto stand and pointing them toward the center of the procession aisle. I dialed down the power to 1/128 or 1/64.

I decided to turn off my on-camera flash, which I use in conjunction with a MagSphere, so that I would be able to create this dramatic sandwiching of light using just the four strobes. Knowing how light behaves can help you create images much faster, without potentially missing a key moment during a ceremony.

Your brain must think in advance—that needs to become second nature to you. Knowing your equipment and how quickly you can make adjustments will increase your chances of creating images like this one without missing a beat.

Camera: Sony Alpha 7R III
Lens: Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS
Exposure: f/3.2 at 1/200 sec.
ISO: 1000
Lighting: Four Godox AD200 strobes

Ruben Gorjian is an award-winning wedding photographer based in Great Neck, New York. A MagMod ambassador, he teaches workshops on using off-camera flash at weddings.

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