June 25, 2024

15 Tips for Incredible Wedding Dance Floor Pictures


The joy and emotion of a wedding build up throughout the special day and culminate in a celebration on the wedding dance floor. The dim lighting, fast movement, and crowded environment present both a challenge and an opportunity for a wedding photographer. This dynamic scene, full of vibrant energy and spontaneous moments, requires an understanding of off-camera lighting including quick reflexes and even a bit of luck.  In this article, we’ll list out some practical tips to help you capture stunning, lively, and unforgettable dance floor pictures of your wedding clients and their guests. From mastering the technical aspects, like the settings and the lighting, to positioning yourself perfectly, we cover all you need to transform challenges into impactful, emotion-filled imagery.

The following images are provided by the photographers at Wedding Maps and used with their permission.

Get into the Action

To truly capture the action and vibe of the dance floor, you need to be in the midst of the action. Stepping onto the dance floor, rather than staying on the periphery, puts you right where the excitement is. It may push you out of your comfort zone, but being among the dancers allows you to capture the raw, unfiltered joy of the celebration. Below are a couple of examples of being in the middle of the dance floor:

important Buffy Goodman  Photo by Buffy Goodman in Edmonton Canada

backflash Scott Josuweit  Photo by SMJ Photography at Cork Factory Hotel in Lancaster, PA

Get up Close with a Wide Angle

Using a wide-angle lens is essential for capturing dynamic action shots. A wide-angle lens not only enables you to get more of the scene into each frame but also lets you get closer to the subjects, which adds intensity to the images. This makes the viewer feel like they are part of the action. Try using a lens that is at least 24mm wide and get close to your subjects. Other great focal lengths include 16mm and 35mm. Once you get into 50mm and above, you may find yourself too zoomed in to capture the energy of the dance floor.

close and wide Mattie Wezah  Photo by Mattie Wezah at The Williamsburg Inn in Williamsburg, VA

Capture Unique Angles

Unlike regular portrait photography, where the primary goal is often to capture flattering, beautiful images, the main goal of dance floor photos is to capture the action, mood, and fun. This means that you can ditch a lot of the conventional portrait rules when it comes to flattering angles and focus on finding interesting, dynamic perspectives.

close roddychung  Photo by Roddy Chung at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, WA U.S.A

timing Jess and Kim  Photo by Party of Two at Founders Hall in Charlotte

High Angles

Elevating your camera for high-angle shots offers a unique perspective that dominates the visual chaos of a crowded dance floor, allowing you to capture the guests’ faces and interactions from above. Going high is often a necessity, as it might be the only way you can get a view of the primary subjects.

higher angle Jos and Tree  Photo by Jos and Tree at Chateau Zen in the village of Madières in the South of France

high angle Aidan Dockery  Photo by Aidan Dockery at Marriott London in London England

Low Angles

Conversely, shooting from low angles can highlight the movement of dancing feet and legs, adding a dynamic element to your photos that emphasizes the energy of the dance.

low angle - important TKM Destinations Photo by TKM Destinations at Spearhead Brewing Company in Kingston, Ontario Canada

low angle Luis Roberto Cabello Garza  Photo by Creando Fotos at La Herencia in Santiago, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

Highlight a Subject with Light

On a bustling dance floor, light can be your best way to isolate a subject. By maneuvering your lighting or even using spotlights, you can draw attention to a particular dancer or group, making them the focal point amidst the chaos. For this effect, you may need a flash grid or a snoot.

highlight Lukas Slobodzian  Image by 4 Eyes Photography at Banff Gondola in Banff Canada

isolate with light Christina MacMeeken  Photo by The Macmeekens at The Grand Ivory in Leonard, Texas

subject brightest part of scene Danieka  Photo by Picturist Photography at Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, California

In the images above, notice how the subjects of the photo are the brightest part of the entire scene. This draws all of the attention to the subjects.

Highlight a Subject with Composition

Composition plays a pivotal role in isolating subjects.  Let’s explore a few examples below.

In the image below, notice how you can only see one clear face, making him the default, isolated subject of the image.

isolate subject Zack Bradley  Photo by Zack Bradley at Fairview Farm in Powhatan, VA

In the photo below, notice how the bride in the center of the image makes her the obvious subject of the image.

fill frame Shukhrat Kamalov  Photo by Shukhrat Kamalov at Hillside Country Club in Rehoboth, MA

Try Using Ambient Light Only

For a more atmospheric and moody shot, turn off your flash and rely solely on the ambient light provided by the venue or DJ lights. This technique can yield softer, more naturally lit images that convey the ambiance of the setting.

ambient light Dan Sauer  Photo by Dan Sauer at Palazzo Borghese in Florence Italy

ambient light SOFIA CAMPLIONI  Photo by Sofia Camplioni in Thessaloniki, Greece

Use a Backflash

Integrating a backflash into your dance floor photography can create a dramatic light burst, adding depth and dimension to your images. This technique illuminates not just the subjects but also the surrounding atmosphere. This is particularly important in dark scenes like outdoor venues and venues with black ceilings. Consider placing off-camera flashes in each corner of the room so that you can control which light, or group of lights, you want to fire in your photos.

backflash Nina Larsen Reed  Photo by Larsen Photo Co at Bonez in Crested Butte, CO

Use an Angled Main Light

When using a flash, consider placing an off-camera flash at an angle. This method helps sculpt the light more naturally, which can make your photographs look more professional and less like typical direct-flash dance floor shots.

off camera flash angled James Nix  Photo by Nix Weddings at The Big Chill in Charlotte, NC

Fill the Frame

In your compositions, try your best to fill the frame either in the camera or with cropping in post-production. Avoid leaving excessive empty space, which can dilute the impact of your images. A filled frame helps showcase the fullness of the event and keeps the viewer’s attention on the subjects.  Make sure you fill the left and right of the frame as well as the top and bottom.

fill frame Tom Fuller  Photo by Tom Fuller at Anthony Wayne House in Malvern, PA

unique angles, great expressions info@jessieanddallin.com  Photo by Jessie and Dallin at Cactus and Tropicals in Draper, UT

Using Foregrounds

Use Foreground to Add Depth

Incorporating foreground elements can add depth to your photos and help frame the main action. This enriches the context of the photograph, providing a layered and intricate visual narrative.

other - important Anne Stephenson  Photo by Anne Stephenson at Backyard Wedding in Thornton, Colorado

Use Foreground to Give Context

Foregrounds also give your image context and help the viewer understand what’s going on in the entire scene. This can help the storytelling power of the image.

audience's perspective Zac Green  Photo by The Greens Photo at Cipriani 42nd Street in NY, NY

foreground elements Kelly Shoul  Image by In Love and Adventure at The 10th at Vail in Colorado

foregrounds Aaron Aldhizer  Photo by Aaron Aldhizer at Private Lakefront Home in Rocky River, Ohio

Be Ready for Spontaneous Moments


A high-energy moment to anticipate is when someone gets tossed into the air. This moment requires quick reflexes from a photographer. Set your camera to a faster shutter speed of 1/100th-1/250th or more and use flash to freeze the motion, ensuring sharp images of wide smiles and dynamic poses against a backdrop of cheering guests. If this doesn’t happen naturally throughout the night, consider planning with the groomsmen to make it happen.

Toss - important Milan lazic  Photo by Milan Lazic at The Brix on the Fox in Chicago, IL


At many wedding celebrations, particularly in Jewish traditions, a moment everyone looks forward to is the chair lifting during the Hora dance. This spirited event sees guests hoisted high on chairs, joyously elevated above the crowd. As a photographer, capturing these moments requires both preparation and positioning.

chair - important Authentic Collective  Photo by Authentic Collective at Waterfall Club in Georgia US

Other Party Moments

Always be on the alert for spontaneous events such as unique dance moves, funny moments, and great expressions. These are golden opportunities for memorable shots.

fill the frame Andy Sidders  Photo by Andy Sidders Photography at Huntsmill Farm in Buckinghamshire UK

other, low angle Lucia Diaz  Photo by Luzye Photography at Venue by Three Petals in Huntington Beach, CA

Try the Camera Twist (Long Exposure)

Experiment with long exposures by using a slow shutter speed combined with a flash to freeze your main subject. This technique allows the background lights to blur into artistic streaks while keeping the primary subject sharp.

Photo by Lin and Jirsa

shutter drag, fill the frame Bob Kniley  Image by Bob Kniley at Ravenwood Golf Club in Rochester, NY

shutter drag Shuhrat Choudhury  Photo by Life and Lights Photography at Comfort Inn & Suites and Conference Center in Mt Pleasant, MI

Take Advantage of Dance Circles

Dance circles are a staple of wedding receptions. As these circles form, the photographer must position themselves strategically. Ideally, find a spot that gives you an unobstructed view of the entire circle. Having a clear line of sight is essential, as the dancers often perform spontaneous and rapid movements that can be the highlight of your shoot. Use a lens that allows you to capture both the individual expressions and the overall energy of the group.

circle Michelle Arlotta  Photo by Michelle Arlotta at Grand Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey

Being ready at the right place at the right time ensures you capture the exuberant spirit and the unique personalities that come alive during these dance circle moments, creating memorable images that resonate with joy and celebration.

Keep the Great Expressions and Cull Out Bad

Unlike posed sessions, dance floor photography will result in many unusable shots due to fleeting, and often uncontrolled, expressions. Shooting multiple shots increases your chances of capturing a frame-worthy smile amidst the fast-paced action. While you shouldn’t clutter your memory card with dozens of shots of the exact same moment, capture a few extra shots of each moment to ensure that you get a good one.

lift citylux  Photo by Citylux Studios at River Club in Boston, MA

Capture a wide angle Image of the Scene

Sometime during the open dance floor portion of the evening, step back, get on a wide-angle lens, and capture the entire scene.  This is a great way for the couple to look back at their wedding and get a sense of the overall vibe of the dance floor. To capture motion blur, try using a tripod and a slow shutter speed.

ambiance photo Larissa Welch  Photo by We The Light at Private Residence in Idledale, CO

Other Dance Floor Photos For Your Inspiration

 Magda Moiola  Photo by Magda Moiola at La Madonnina di Barni in Barni – Lecco Italy

other Dale Mitchell  Image by Summit Photo and Film at Port Gamble, WA in Port Gamble, WA

other Maddy Mahairas  Photo by Maddness Photography at Venue650 in Winter Haven, FL

long exposure Christora Osters  Image by Green Apple Weddings at Phillips Grove in Radcliff, Kentucky

carry Irina Duane  Photo by Irina Duane at Garryvoe Hotel in Garryvoe, co. Cork Ireland

timing John Zhang  Photo by Ether Photography at The Terrace Banquet Hall in Toronto Canada
chair dance John Foley  Photo by John Foley at The Blackstone Hotel in Chicago, IL
timing, lift Thaddeus Ladzinski  Image by Ladman Studios at The Waterview in Connecticut

Photo by Images by Nic at St Johns Resort in Plymouth, Michigan

low angle Taber Hespe  Photo by Taber Hespe at Private Residence Tent Wedding in Winchester, Virginia

high angle Leif Nielsen  Image by Roc Focus at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester

Wedding dance floor photography requires some advanced flash techniques, anticipation, quick reflexes, and creativity. By using the strategies in the article, you can capture the spirit and excitement of the celebration, delivering photos that your clients will absolutely love. These tips will not only enhance your photographic skills but also ensure that you capture the joy and uniqueness of each wedding celebration.

Pye Jirsa

Pye Jirsa

Pye Jirsa is the founder and partner of SLR Lounge, Visual Flow Presets, and Lin and Jirsa Photography. Pye has taught and inspired thousands of photographers around the world with frameworks that make seemingly complex and intimidating topics simple and approachable. His frameworks have also helped create and scale Lin and Jirsa Photography, a boutique Socal wedding and portrait photography studio that shoots over 1,000 wedding, portrait, newborn and commercial clients each year.

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