TIPS FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
If music is the art of sound, photography is the art of light
“Light turns the ordinary into the magical” – Trent Parke
There are all sorts of wedding photographers. Editorial, fine art, light and airy, dark and moody. But we all have one thing in common. We are all chasing light (yes, even the dark and moody ones!) We play with it, paint with it, dance with it, duel with it. It’s our canvas, our muse and our medium. And when it comes to your wedding photography, it would be really helpful if the light was our friend!
But it’s either light or it isn’t, right? You can’t change the weather. And you can’t run around the venue knocking holes in the walls and switching out all the light bulbs. So what’s all this got to do with you?
Well firstly, I should say, don’t worry too much! As a wedding photographer in Scotland, capturing beautiful photos in all kinds of lights (and weather!) is my forte. But there are a few little things you can do to help me out on the day. So here are just a few hacks, hints and tips that’ll help make sure you have the best possible light for your wedding photos.
Getting the best light for your morning prep photos
I have a whole other blog about how to get the best morning prep photos. So I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible, and strictly about light!
Firstly you want to choose a spacious room with plenty of natural light. Natural light is beautiful. And the quality of light you get through a window is far better than any man-made light bulb. So unless it’s nighttime, turn off all the lamps. It’ll be bright outside anyway and you won’t need them.
And for your hair and makeup, try to keep your face towards the source of natural light. Your hair and makeup artists will always want the best possible light while they work anyway. So when you’re setting everything up, make sure you’re facing the window.
**This is a great tip for photography in general. If you know something special or important is about to happen (you’re about to open a letter from your partner; your mum is about to fix your buttonhole), try and turn towards the light. It may not seem like much, but that conscious little movement can absolutely transform a photo.
Any weather is good weather
No, we can’t control the weather. And as a Scotland wedding photographer, I’m quite used to having sunny mornings, cloudy afternoons and torrential evenings (or some combination!)
But don’t worry. Whatever weather gets sent our way, we’ll always get some amazing photos. It’s also nice to know if it’s not the blazing sun and clear blue skies, you shouldn’t be worried. If anything, it’s actually quite good news!
Wedding photography in sunny weather
Pretty much every couple dreams of beautiful sunshine and clear blue skies on their wedding day. And it’s a common misconception that “beautiful weather = beautiful photos”. But while the blazing sun might be good for cocktails and lawn games, it’s the natural enemy of wedding photography.
Bright sun from above casts strong shadows across our faces. And if we’re standing under leafy trees or next to a green lawn, it can make our skin tones look almost sickly. We squint, wear sunglasses, put our hands up over our faces. And it’ll mean I’ll have to work harder to find the right angles and the right balance between sun and shade.
What can you do about it? Not much really! Try and keep your back to the sun for photos, so you’re not squinting. And be patient with me if I ask you to move into better light. Apart from that, enjoy the warm weather and leave it to me to work my magic! Oh, and don’t worry, I will work my magic!
Wedding photography in cloudy weather
A nice bit of sun with a few clouds is nature’s gift to wedding photography!
Clouds act like a natural light diffuser, diffusing sunlight and making it softer. We don’t get any harsh shadows across faces, and it gives the whole day a beautiful glow. Even a slightly cloudy sky makes a huge difference. So if you see clouds, welcome them with open arms!
I don’t like to think of myself as ‘dark and moody’, but I do love a bit of drama in my photos! So for me, grey, dark, rainy clouds are beautiful. They’ll give your wedding photos this incredibly moody feel, and the tones are perfect for the palette of my work.
Again, you can’t do anything about it. But if you see dark clouds, greet them like an old friend and expect some seriously beautiful shots!
And what if it rains?
Like kilts, sporrans and whisky toasts, rain is becoming something of a Scottish wedding tradition! So of course, hope for a dry day. But embrace (and love) the possibility you might get a downpour.
Because honestly, I love taking photos in the rain (honestly!) It can make for some seriously fun photos. We also very often have rainbows right after the rain in Scotland, which is a symbol of hope.
I always recommend to my couples to have clear umbrellas handy just in case. It means we can go out into the rain and get some awesome shots, without the umbrellas casting shadows over your faces.
Finding the best light for your couples portraits
The best time for couples portraits is around sunset. The light refracts through the atmosphere, the blues split and the world is bathed in a golden glow (hence ‘golden hour’). It’s truly magical.
So if I ever ask you if you want to come with me for some couples portraits at golden hour, always (always!) say yes! Not every couple gets the chance to catch a golden hour on their wedding day. So if you get it, take it!
Sometimes, depending on the weather or the time of the year, we won’t get the chance to have your couple shots at sunset. We’ll know well in advance when the sun will set on your wedding day and what your timeline looks like. So we can plan ahead together and find the perfect time to take them during the day.
If things don’t go to plan (or the weather is beyond workable!) we’ll take your portraits indoors where I can control the light. And if that happens, don’t be worried or upset. Portraits taken indoors have a special kind of moody, romantic magic all of their own.
Make sure the lighting for the speeches is perfect
The speeches are often some of my favourite parts of the day to photograph. Your reactions as you listen to the love of your life pouring their heart out, candid moments of guests laughing and crying. They’re some of the most emotional moments of the whole day. And it’s always worth making the effort to light them properly.
It’s important to think about lighting up the area where the speeches will be. And definitely avoid having the speech givers standing in a dark corner of the room. Simply because it can be difficult to capture people’s emotions and reactions in this situation without using a flash.
You want these photos especially to be more natural and honest. And using flash will not only change the mood of the speeches but also change the whole look and feel of the photos. So make sure the lighting is as good as it can possibly be! The people at your venue will know where the best light will be, so it’s always worth talking to them about how they’d recommend setting up the room.
Lighting your reception with wedding photography in mind
The light in the evening is very important as well. Some lights are harder to work with than others; fluorescent and coloured LED lights, for example, give off poor light quality and constantly change the colour and brightness of each shot. Downlights work like the sun in the middle of the day, casting harsh shadows and giving an unnaturally orange look to people’s skin (think: Trump after a sunny holiday).
What can you do about it? Keep the light as consistent and gentle as possible. Things like candles, tealights, festoon lights and fairy lights will give your reception and evening some much-needed light whilst creating a soft, romantic mood.
If there is no possibility to use another source of light, I can always use my flash, so it’s not a problem for me. And for dancefloor shots, flash can give you a really cool “Met Gala” aesthetic. But for the evening meal, for example, it might not be the look you’re hoping for.
Whatever happens, don’t worry
I know, I’m sorry. It’s all a lot to think about. And you already had so much to think about already!
But don’t let it worry you, or stress you out. I’ve been a wedding photographer for years, and an enthusiastic photographer for countless years before that. So whatever happens, whatever the light, whatever the weather, I’ll make sure you have the beautiful wedding photos you’ve always dreamed of. But if you can do just a few of these things, it’ll make the world of difference to your final photos.
If you’ve found this helpful and would like more advice on how to get the best wedding photos, stick around and check out some of my other blogs. From confetti shots, to morning prep photos, there are plenty of tips and advice on offer!
If you’re still on the lookout for a wedding photographer in Scotland and you love my work, get in touch today and let’s get to know each other.