Need Red Carpet Advice

Registered: Nov 04, 2003
Total Posts: 1820
Country: United States

I have been asked, last minute, to replace a photographer who was to shoot a Sweet 16 Party which has a "Red Carpet" theme. I am no fashion photographer. I have 2 800W Alien Bees, assorted umbrella's, and a 60" octagonal softbox, and the stands to support them. The client is supplying the carpet and the backdrop, I am bringing a back drop stand. I also have both a Canon 580 and 420 Speedlites, and could shoot the Bee's to slave off the Speedlites in necessary. The venue is a large hall with a high white tiled ceiling. Any advice on how to us/place the Bee's using the softbox and/or the umbrella's would be appreciated.


Registered: Feb 15, 2005
Total Posts: 868
Country: United States

Two quick thoughts.

Rambunctious teenagers around light stands & cords can be an accident waiting to happen. If you really need them sandbag the heck out of the stands and gaffer tape every inch of the cords.

Do you need lights? Will a simple flash bracket suffice if you have good ambient light to begin with?


Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8566
Country: United States

chas wrote: I have been asked, last minute, to replace a photographer who was to shoot a Sweet 16 Party which has a "Red Carpet" theme. ...I also have both a Canon 580 and 420 Speedlites...

Picture in your mind the TV segments you've seen of the red carpet arrivals at the Oscars and such: lots of fast-paced, photojournalist- and papparazzi-styled shooting going on.

Your 580EX elevated on a bracket should be all you need for the "glam" look the girls will like.

Registered: Dec 13, 2009
Total Posts: 274
Country: United States

I have done something similar on quite a few occasions. Easiest would be a 580ex on a tall flash bracket. I agree about cords and stands not being that teenager friendly.

I also got great results doing a "red carpet" style shoot for a masquerade ball using an ABR800 ringflash. The client loved the "stylized ringflash look". I used a 30" moon-unit much of the time, with about 25% of the shots being a "naked" ringflash and reflector.

Do you need to move around much for any of the party, or is it just a "static" setup in one location?

Registered: Nov 18, 2002
Total Posts: 9376
Country: United States

My standard configuration for situations like that is a 580ex on bracket and another off camera. When I can't put the OCF flash in front of the subject and control it's angle and pattern relative to the noses I just roll it around back and park it in a corner. If it worked for a room full of five-year-olds it will probably work for you too...

As you can see the rim lighting adds separation and an illusion of 3D space that is lacking in single flash shots with front > back fall off or the bland even light of bounced flash. The light from the back also meets the light from the front in the middle, which eliminated the "shot in a cave" look of single flash shots.

Technically its a no brainer with ETTL. Note how the OCF flash is visible in the first shot. A feature of the default evaluative flash metering will ignore flashes or their reflections in the shot when computing the flash exposure.