Best Wedding Photography Lighting Tips
People are very serious about their wedding photos. So it’s understandable that you’d be under immense pressure to take the best photos. There are two things a wedding photographer needs to get those perfect photos; a camera and great lighting.
Of course, the camera’s easy. It’s the lighting that can confuse people. The trick is seeing the venue and deciding the specific types of lighting you’ll have to use.
The couple will prefer natural lighting if it’s an outdoor wedding, and most of your job is done already. Things get a little more complicated if you’re working indoors or in the evening. Specifically, you don’t have as much natural lighting, and it’s getting dark. In such cases, a good flash will certainly help. Still, you must balance everything, and we’re here to help.
Here are a few tips for the best wedding photography lighting:
Consider the Light in Your Venue
If you’re photographing the ceremony or people at the head table, lay off on the flash. Some officiants don’t allow flash photography during the ceremony. That’s because the flash is distracting.
In such cases, you’ll have to make do with natural lighting. Check out the pieces already emitting light and use them to take the perfect photos. For example, light streaming through the window is perfect for illumination and eliminates the need for flash photography.
However, there are a few exceptions. If you’re allowed to use flash, you can blend it with ambient lighting to create a more powerful scene. It can also help you correct whatever the natural light may lack.
Play Around With the Flash
We already said that flash could add to already beautiful lighting. However, it can also ruin it. Try not to use bare flash, as the light may be too harsh. Instead, find ways to soften the flash.
There are two distinct ways to do that. The first uses a diffuser, while the other bounces the light off other surfaces. If the ceiling is too high, look for nearby walls. Bouncing the flash can help avoid any harsh shadows or unnecessary highlights.
If you’re using a diffuser, get one that will fit the flash head. It needs to be secure. Otherwise, you’ll be spending all your time adjusting the camera.
Switch up the Camera Settings
You need to adjust your camera settings according to the lighting conditions, so don’t rely on the automatic settings. Be especially mindful of the exposure. If you’re shooting outside, there’s a chance your photos may end up being over or under-exposed.
If there’s a lot of light, turn down the exposure. Similarly, you may have to turn up the exposure if the sky is overcast.
Mind the Shutter Speed
You need to control the blend of exposure and ambient lighting. For that, you’ll have to adjust the aperture and shutter speed. Stay between 1/200 and 1/60. Change the speed depending on the lighting and whether the subjects are moving to get those sharp images.
Use a faster shutter speed to highlight the subject. Slow down the shutter speed to balance the lighting. You can also use the shutter speed to determine how much the background is highlighted. If you’re feeling exceptionally playful, create light trails with low shutter speeds.
You can use reflectors if you don’t want to fill the exposure with a flash. These reflectors are great for bouncing the natural light toward the front for better lighting. Alternatively, a reflector can block out any light or shadows. White or silver reflectors, for example, help you fill in the shadows or increase the light.
Simply raise the reflector until you’re blocking the intruding light. You can also use the reflector to diffuse the light. Just raise the reflector while angling it towards the subject. Move it around till you’re satisfied.
Use That Backlight to Make the Couple Glow
Backlight during wedding photography is helpful because it’ll help make the bride’s dress pop. Make the couple stand directly before the backlight and angle the camera to get a halo effect.
If you’re outside, use the sun to create the backlight effect. You can even place the couple in front of a dark background (like the greenery) to enhance the effects. If you don’t want the halo effect, use the backlight to shoot a picture focused on the silhouette.
Side lighting works the same way as backlighting. You position the light source to the side, so the light is streaming onto the subject. The one problem here is the shadows. You need to experiment with different angles to ensure you get the right effects. The last thing you need are shadows to highlight unflattering features.
Use the Shadows to Set the Mood
Enough about using the light to brighten everything. Let’s see what you can do with lowlights. You can use low or dim lighting to dramatize the scene. Direct the light so that the subject is in the center of the scene. Take vertical shots, create silhouettes, and do anything else to create a darker, more mysterious vibe.
Polarizing Filters Will Make Everything Pop
Speaking of drama, use polarizing filters to make everything pop in an outdoor shoot. The filter controls the reflections, so you can use it to create beautiful effects. Go for landscape shots to capture the venue. Shoot the subjects against the sky.
Note that you can only use this trick when there’s plenty of light around.
Capturing the Dance Floor
The dance floor is tricky. There is plenty of light, and the people will move pretty fast. Shooting specific subjects during this time may make everything look haphazard. Try working with the DJ’s lights or the lights on the dance floor.
Increase the shutter speed to capture all the action. Try focusing on a single subject and blurring out the background. If the lighting is dim, you can use the bare flash and a low shutter speed to achieve this effect.
There’s no right or wrong approach to wedding photography and lighting. You just have to figure out your style and get creative. One thing you need to be mindful of is time. Be ready to move fast and capture the magical moments.
You can use artificial or natural light. We advise you to strike a balance between both types of lighting for perfect results. Remember, everything has to be perfect, so show up early and calculate what you need.