The most important aspect of any photo is light. To get natural looking photos, you have to know how to plan for good light and how to embrace the light available. With weddings especially, things like time of day, the angle of light, the temperature of light, and the amount of light can have a drastic affect on photos. More often than not, having your ceremony outdoors is the best way to ensure good light.
I have selected a few photos from recent weddings to show the difference in a few variations of lighting to help you prepare and understand what to expect in terms of lighting. As a photographer, I try my best to know how to shoot in a variety of lighting conditions but I also want to provide as much information to help you plan for the best photos possible.
AMBIENT INDOOR LIGHT
This kind of light happens when the indoor light source comes primarily from two or more large windows or several small windows bringing in a nice clean white light. This kind of light can be tricky to expose correctly but can make for some beautiful photos.
BACKLIGHT/GOLDEN HOUR LIGHT
This is favored lighting for many wedding photographers. Backlight creates a nice edge around the subjects and has a golden effect. I love embracing this kind of light. Golden hour is beautiful during the ceremony but can leave little time for portraits afterward since the sun sets soon after this light occurs. It's always best to keep post-ceremony events in mind when scheduling around sunset.
SINGLE SOURCE BACKLIGHT
This kind of light is beautiful but almost always requires some editing tweaks. Because of the dynamic range in cameras, the difference in bright backlight and a shaded foreground can create a dark silhouette unless exposed correctly. This is difficult light to shoot in but a little love and care while editing can make this light wonderful.
Harsh light occurs when the sun is directly over head which is usually around 12pm. As soon as the sun starts moving across the horizon the angle changes and the harsh light becomes softer and can be a bit easier to work with. While taking portraits in harsh light, I like to look for shade or wait for some cloud cover.
Stage light is the most difficult light to get to look natural. Without any natural light and with more than one artificial light source, getting skin tones to look natural can be difficult due to conflicting light temperatures. Another challenge with this kind of light are dark isle ways which can increase the opportunity for blurry photos of the bridal party and bride as they walk towards the stage.
This kind of light occurs when the sun shines at an angle or through trees making it uneven. I really enjoy embracing this kind of light. It can give a cinematic feel which creates a moodiness and uniqueness to the ceremony.
This is the most ideal light to shoot in. Even light occurs later in the day when the light becomes evenly diffused so that no matter what angle you shoot from, the light doesn't change in the camera. This kind of light also occurs on a cloudy day (as seen below) or right before it rains.
Warm ambient LIGHT
Warm ambient light occurs when the main light source comes from chandeliers, recessed lighting, string lights, and/or other kinds of decorative light fixtures mixed with natural light. While it's preferred that the light sources are the same temperature, this can always make for some nice, warm, intimate light.
Rain can definitley throw a wrench in wedding plans but it doesn't mean it can't turn out amazing. From a photography perspective, following through with an outdoor ceremony despite rain will almost always make for better photos than moving indoors would. As long as the rain is moderate, my cameras will hold up and I'm always ready for an adventure.
IT'S GOING TO BE GREAT!
With all that being said, this guide is meant to help you prepare for as close to an ideal situation as possible in terms of photography. If your ceremony space doesn't match an ideal lighting situation, it is not the end of the world and I always do my best to work around those things. I want to provide as much information as I can to help you plan for great photos. If you have any questions or concerns I am available to help! Just text me, call me, or shoot me an email.