"All You Need is L.O.V.E"

If you have been visiting the outer reaches of the galaxy for the last few years, you may have missed the electrically-lit L.O.V.E letters that are a big hit at weddings. Placed on the dance floor they literally spell out the order of the day in Hollywood-esque lights. 

As a wedding photographer, I am often asked to get some pictures of there bridal party with the letters and I always jump at the opportunity. Getting great photos of groups with lit backgrounds like this can exercise all the skill of a photographer, and I L.O.V.E a challenge (sorry about that!)

Multiple Exposure version - more faff, but worth it!

It's about the bulbs

One thing that makes a massive difference is that type of letters used. There are three types that are most common:

  • Warm actual real bulbs - perfect (loved-up)
  • White LED lights - not good, too clinical (like a dentist's surgery) 
  • Fluorescent lights behind panels - forget it (look like car park signage)

So if you do want professional photos of your L.O.V.E letters, then go for ones that have lovely warm bulbs, as these will make fantastic photos, assuming the photographer has what it takes!

Getting the perfect shot...

Sometimes multiple exposures are the best way, this means I can get the lighting correct for the lights (generally without any flashes), with the camera stabilised. This ensures the L.O.V.E letters are captured perfectly, with the warmth of the lights giving all the illumination. The reason for multiple exposures is that this technique will not capture properly the Bridesmaids as they will be underexposed due to the lack of any other form of light than the letters themselves, but also the shutter speed needed to catch the lights correctly may be so slow that moving Bridesmaids (they tend to do this) will be blurry. The fix is to then take another exposure with artificial light which gets the bridal party perfectly lit. Then you just need to blend the two images in photoshop.

The shot above shows one of my images using this technique, of Michelle and her Bridesmaids...

Single Speedlight (with MagMod) - handheld

Single Speedlight (with MagMod) - handheld

When there is not the time for the above setup, you can still get a good shot, but it just takes a bit more quick thinking on the fly, to ensure that your flash does not overly expose the letters, and that your shutter speed is slow enough to let the letters shine out.