Vendor Spotlight :: Uplighting & More :: Boston Uplights

Next up in the Vendor Spotlight (no pun intended) is Boston Uplights. Many of my wedding clients will ask for input on how something may photograph, I recently had a couple of brides ask for my opinion on Uplighting, and although I've photographed weddings with all sorts of different lighting designs I decided to chat with Paul Therrien of Boston Uplights to get the scoop from a lighting design expert.

The word "photography" originates from the Greek and pretty much translates as "to draw with light". Don't worry - that's it for the history lesson! - when I'm taking a picture I usually have 2 objectives in mind. The 1st is to capture the exact moment and emotion so that you feel something when you look back at the image. The 2nd is to try to elevate the image with light:
- Outdoors I'll shoot later in the day in open shade with natural reflections for beautiful soft flattering light
- Indoors during daylight, if it was good enough for Rembrandt, it's good enough for me and I'll use window light for flattering shadows and sparkly catch-lights in the eyes
- Indoors at night I'll shoot in manual and use a combination of a slow shutter speed (dragging the shutter), higher ISO and wider apertures (read expensive "fast" lenses) to have the ambient or background light add depth to the picture and I'll use strobes and other toys to get interesting backlighting.
So I LOVE it when brides have lighting on their to-do list as it gives me much more to play with.

I met Paul at his studio in North Reading - well worth a visit - not only can you see examples of his lighting technology but there's a large selection of candy to enjoy while you chat!

LH: So Paul, first of all can you define uplighting:
PT: Well, strictly speaking, uplighting is simply the technique of placing a light at ground level and lighting upwards to highlight the architecture and space of a location - walls, pillars, the outside of a building for example. At Boston Uplights, we're known for being experts in lighting design which will often include uplighting but also goes beyond that.

LH: And tell me about Boston Uplights:
PT: We started back in 2007 and although we do occasional corporate events and Bar Mitzvahs, 97% of what we do is lighting design for weddings. We were the first company in the country to take wireless and battery operated lighting products and use them in innovative ways to bring lighting design to a larger audience at an affordable price. Prior to this wedding lighting had involved complex wiring, a team of technicians, extended set up fees and this obviously had a hefty price tag.
More recently we've taken those tiny wireless and battery operated lights and evolved into centerpiece lighting, paper lantern designs, candlelight concepts, projected monograms and much much more
[Side note from me: I'm a photographer not a writer - it's hard for me to try to explain Paul's enthusiasm and passion for what he does. I went to our meeting intent on finding out the basics on uplighting but I left totally wowed at the creative and endless possibilities of lighting design and I was absolutely amazed at how affordable some of these concepts are.]

LH: I think many couples assume that lighting design has a scary price tag and is really only for the high-end weddings with the big budget:
PT: It definitely used to be that way but we've really flipped the whole business model around. With our wireless battery-operated lights there's no need for complex wiring and a full team of technicians. We can suspend lights very easily now without having to build rigging systems and our hanging lanterns and votives can be adjusted in real time for a perfectly arrangement. We work with each bride to put together a custom quote relating to the venue, the style and theme and their budget. Lighting design starts at just $995 for some simple lighting and includes your technician and for around $2000-3000 you can do something pretty spectacular. [At this point, I nearly fell off my chair. I was chatting with a bride earlier this week who was telling me about the issues she's had trying to do her own lighting - she's ordering 50 paper lanterns online, assembling them at home (hello hours of work you can do without), paying a day-of coordinator to come and hang them all and she's having issues with the coordinator not being equipped with the right height of ladder etc]
PT:By specializing in this specific type of lighting design and equipment we can really control our costs and we pass those along.

LH: At what stage during the planning process should a bride contact you to talk about lighting? As soon as they have a venue selected?
PT: Actually, we've had some brides contact us ever before that! If they have a specific look they're trying to achieve, we can advise on the possibilities and costs for the final venues they're considering. Having said that, it's really never too late to consider lighting. Your final headcount is usually due to the venue a few weeks before the wedding, maybe you've had a total of 7 couples decline, at say $100 a head you now have $1400 - if we have availability we love these kind of last minute challenges! Even if you've already booked lighting, that extra cash can be used to add extra uplights of another 50 candles.

LH: What are some of the trends you predict for 2010 and 2011?
PT: For me, up and coming trends fall into two categories.. The first category is something totally new that will soon be the next "in" thing to have, and the second category is something that is already known in the wedding industry as the "high-end" lighting feature, but will soon be re-invented by Boston Uplights making it even more amazing and suddenly affordable for many.

One newly developed concept we will soon be launching is our new "Light in Motion" Concept and Systems. This will be the year we merge "elegance" and "moving light effects" into one thought essentially creating a new category. Our new system will allow our hanging lights to not only change color wirelessly, they will also glide up and down into new positions creating dynamic changes of height, shape and color. This new innovation is hard to explain, but will be nothing short of mesmerizing and beautiful to see happen in person [I SO want to photograph this at a wedding!!!]
Secondly, the already known "must have high-end feature". All we can say about this one is that your dinner table and centerpiece will be the focus of this new light system. The way in which we will be able to highlight your table will change the way weddings throughout the country are designed, imagined, photographed and remembered.

In short, if we have our way, the new "lighting trend" will be what many remember as "amazing, beautiful, and finally affordable! Stay tuned for more details!

LH: Anything else that you think might be helpful for those couples planning their wedding now and wondering if lighting is something they should even consider?
PT: Don't think that lighting is only for the Platinum Wedding! Even a little bit of lighting - hanging votives, flickering candlelights around the top of a room - can make a huge difference. Guests are always completely surprised when they walk into a room and see a unique lighting concept. Lighting affects the feel, the ambience, the style, the music played, the photography, the videography - it can really give a beautiful cohesive feel to your event. Lighting can be integrated to any kind of wedding now - with the freedom of wireless technology we can light an old historic building or even the chairs in a field for an outdoor ceremony!

I love hearing a bride say "I never thought I could do this" and knowing that the systems I've developed made that possible.

And I'm working on some amazing technology that should hit later in the year and without giving too much away, guests would walk in to see beautiful hanging lights that are remotely operated so as the sun goes down, the lights change too!

If you're not a photographer you can skip over this next bit...all of the pictures on this post are Paul's, so not only is he a lighting design wizard, he's also a pretty incredible photographer. We had an interesting conversation about how sometimes photographers will try to adjust their WB so far that they lose the overall feel of the lighting (and of course that's what people remember and want to see in the pictures). Here are Paul's tips for "How to Photograph Uplighting"
- Wide angle lens to show the full effect of the lighting design
- Minimize or eliminate bounce flash, use a pop of straight-on flash for fill
- Set WB to flash so you'll have good skin tones [or of course you can shoot RAW in auto WB and adjust as needed afterwards]
- Drag your shutter for better ambient light [higher ISO is also your friend here]
- A good fast lens will minimise your need for flash and allow the uplighting effect to show

Huge thanks to Paul from Boston Uplights for taking the time to chat about the endless possibilities with lighting and for choosing to do it in such a way that beautiful lighting is now an options for many weddings!

Feel free to leave a comment (please do in fact, it makes me happy) and let me know what other vendors you'd like to find out more about. Coming up soon will be videography and flowers...
For more info on lighting:
Phone: 877-566-2711


  1. Wow! Beautiful photos (even though they aren't yours!). I wish we had a budget for this!! I love reading your blog Leah, you always keep it interesting!! :)

  2. Thanks Neeta!! Your wedding is going to be spectacular and you have the stunning backdrop of the city through the windows. And as Paul says, less than $1000 can get you some unique and interesting lighting concepts!!

    The engagement pictures will start up soon followed by the first 2010 weddings! Thanks for hanging in there :)

  3. I love the vendor stories, I am working on my budget (2011 bride!) and I'm going to try to do some lighting now!