How To Plan For Great Light On Your Wedding Day
Light is the key ingredient in good photography, and an essential tool to any photographer who knows their craft well. Here I’ve outlined the kind of challenges wedding day light can bring, and the simple things you can do to help make sure your photos are spectacular.
Because I take a documentary style approach to my work as a wedding photographer I tend towards natural light in most situations, and try not to use a flash unless I have to. Natural light is a beautiful tool, and the more brides and couples know about it, the better the chances of achieving breathtaking naturalistic images on the day.
Getting Ready your Bridal Preparations
Your whole wedding day – from breakfast right up to your killer dance moves at the end – is a complete story, and getting ready is one of the most important opening chapters. It’s when some key emotional moments can take place, and in relative peace too, before things get busy. If lit correctly the images you take from this part of the day can be powerful, elegant and beautiful.
Natural light isn’t just useful for your photography, it’s good news for your hair and makeup prep too. So if you can, try and select the largest room available that lets in the most light. If you’re visiting a possible space, take note of the shape and size of the room, including where the windows are. Big light walls can also help to illuminate the space and give your photographer more to work with.
If you think your hotel, venue or home won’t make the best location for bridal preparations – and you really want your getting ready shots to be amazing – then you might want to consider renting out an Airbnb that does have the light and space you want. That relatively small additional cost could make all the difference to those first few pages of your wedding album.
Sometimes natural light just isn’t an option. If that’s the case, remember that the next best thing is just one kind of light. Candle light, tungsten light and fluorescent light can all create great shots on their own, but if you have them all in the same room together it can result in odd skin colours in the photographs.
It’s not the end of the world if you haven’t thought about these things in advance, but it can be a real help if you have time. Don’t forget you can always contact your wedding photographer for advice.
Although they are a rarity in the UK, I love to shoot outdoor ceremonies since the natural light presents so many opportunities. If you are planning an outdoor ceremony, just watch out for ‘harsh light’ caused by the midday sun, which can cause dark shadows, especially under the eyes.
Any point between 10am and 3pm can suffer from harsh light, depending on the weather and time of year, so I would recommend opting for a slightly later ceremony if you have the choice. The perfect light in summer tends to be a couple of hours before sunset. Wedding photography taken during this window always looks fantastic.
If you’ve chosen your photographer because of their talent for beautiful sunset portraits, then don’t forget you’ll need to create time for this when planning your day.
Check in advance what time the sun will set, then allocate a 20-40 minute block an hour before that time (so if the sun will set at 8pm, try and get started around 7pm). That way you can get some stunning rush-free images during the ‘golden hour’.
The Wedding Reception
This is where speaking with your photographer about the lighting can be crucial. Look at the size and light sources – natural and artificial – in the reception space, and ask your DJ what types of lighting they’ll be using. Also, think about where key moments – such as the cake cutting and first dance – will be happening. It’s a good idea to position these moments and people where there’s plenty of light, ideally not with their backs to a window. (Having key people side on to windows is great, however, and can produce really dynamic lighting.)
Weather on Your Wedding Day
An overcast day might seem miserable or dull, but if the forecast isn’t brilliant for your day, don’t worry. In a strange way this can create perfect lighting conditions. The clouds act like a giant soft box, ensuring everything has a soft and beautiful balanced light with no shadows.
No matter where or when you’re getting married – if you have a great wedding photographer and you chat to them about the spaces and lighting conditions beforehand – they will always be able to create beautiful wedding photos that will continue to blow you away for years to come. I Hope you’ve enjoyed reading How To Plan For Great Light On Your Wedding Day.
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