How I Light: Nick Tucker on Honing His Bold Flash to Freeze Offbeat Wedding Frames

March 17, 2017

By Libby Peterson

© Nick Tucker

Nick Tucker
London, England
Genre: Wedding
Style: Punchy, raw, direct
@nicktuckerphoto |


I came across Larry Fink, and I loved the results he got with his use of flash mounted on an L-bracket: simple, stark, punchy and bold black-and-white images. Using the flash this way has allowed me to have control over my lighting, creating an atmosphere of my own. A bride standing with her dress perfectly fanned out, lit by soft window light and looking beautifully composed doesn’t contain any real truth, I find, because it really only speaks to the language of wedding photography, of all the other images just like that one. The bride is about to get married: She’s nervous as hell and her room is probably a mess of bags, shoes, body contouring underwear, makeup and friends. That perfectly composed shot is almost the denial of the drama and emotion of the wedding day.

With a flash, you’re shooting what’s in front of you and giving it a heightened sense of emotion and life. There’s also something quite raw and amateur about using a flash—it’s how most people take an indoor photo, after all. I figure if I can shoot like that but tweak it to create a “high-end snapshot” feel, then it has a certain kind of democratic sensibility to it—shooting a little awkwardly, with or without flash in a way that somehow feels close to the way we experience life as moments and memories. It feels more real, somehow. It’s more immediate and instinctual, and I find that haphazard aspect exciting. It’s not clumsy, but it’s not tidy and pretty. It’s chaotic and flawed. It fits perfectly with the drunken dancing, and also it fits perfectly with life.


A Canon Speedlite 580EX flash, set manually, with a Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 800, f/8 and 1/200th of a second.

All photos © Nick Tucker

This is Jen, Ione and Olivia, three sisters outside a wedding venue called The Asylum. It’s crumbling and beautiful, the kind of venue that would be just as home to a fashion shoot as a wedding. The scene has a fashion feel anyway—three striking sisters, glammed up and smoking. The flash adds the look of raw immediacy and dynamism to a scene that already had that.

Out of these images here, this one—shot at a high-end wedding in the heart of London—is probably my biggest nod to Larry Fink. It’s awkward and angular. The shadows are very pronounced and there is a mess of things happening, including the un-readability of the bridesmaid in the center with the bride leaning down toward her. So many wedding images make you smile and go, “Oh, that’s beautiful. Look at the sunset as they kiss.” I like how strange and intriguing this is.

This was shot on the dance floor at my last wedding of 2016. I just love the faces and the mood—it’s almost confrontational. By using a strong, direct flash, I’ve eliminated anything else in the shot, giving it an abstract quality. You can’t tell they’re in a wedding marquee. You can’t really tell where they are. Their faces just float out of the dark.

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