Summer Street Photography specializes in Sun Drenched Wedding Photography. Calling both Massachusetts and Minnesota home, Matthew and Kendra are a married couple that photograph weddings nationally and overseas. With degrees in Fine Arts (he – a musician, and she – a dancer) they create timelessly artistic images for you to cherish as a visual journal of your wedding day. Do you remember the lovely wedding of Amy and Leah we featured back in March? One of their many beautiful weddings captured! I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to know Kendra better and so I can definitely say that this duo is awesome.
Today Matthew and Kendra are going to share their awesome advice on how to plan for lighting on your wedding day. Something you probably haven’t thought much about – unless you are a person who notices light everywhere you go (like us photographers do), you forget that we have all different kinds of light around us everywhere. And on a wedding day there is outdoor light, indoor light at a chapel perhaps, lighting in a barn vs. lighting in a reception hall. ALL so different and your photographer is tasked with preparing for the best photographs in all of them. So today’s advice is how you can help them do that (which is a great idea so you can have the VERY BEST wedding photographs you can possibly have!)! Take it away Kendra!
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Advanced Wedding Planning: Considering Light in your Wedding Photos
Hi I Love Farm Weddings Readers! My name is Kendra and I’m a wedding photographer on the East Coast and Minnesota alongside my business and life partner-in-crime, Matt. We’re a husband and wife wedding photography team that specializes in natural light wedding photography. We’re here today to chat about something that goes above and beyond the wedding checklist when hiring a photographer and planning your wedding day schedule. We’re here to talk about light, photography, how the two go hand in hand and more importantly how these two things will affect your wedding photographs. Let’s dive in, shall we?
1. Why is lighting so important for photography?
We could talk all day about the technicalities of cameras, film and light but we’re going to keep it simple. In many ways, cameras are like our own eye sight. We have eyes that see and a brain that interprets what we see. Cameras have eyes as well (the lens) and the brain is the body of the camera. This is true whether you’re photographer shoots digitally (a very complex brain) or with film. Camera sensors or film sensitivity in the body of a camera will interpret what it sees through the lens. Just like when we go out in the bright sun we have to squint a bit (and perhaps wear sunglasses) to make the conditions more comfortable. Our pupils contract and become smaller to allow less light into our bodies so we can see properly. Likewise, when we go into a darker room, our pupils dilate and become larger to allow more light in so we can see better.
Essentially, this is how cameras work as well. Professional Photographers know the technical capabilities to manually photograph (no auto buttons for us) so that we can maximize the settings in the camera to best capture the subject in whatever lighting condition presents itself. Just like our eyes, when the sun sets and we’re dealing with artificial light, the look of the photo changes to reflect the conditions of what is being photographed. This is why darker, indoor lighting conditions look different than photos taken with all natural, or outdoor light. Lighting is so important in photography because it is the foundation for the way a photos looks.
2. How will various lighting conditions affect my wedding photos?
Lighting techniques have come a long way in our age of technology. Most professional photographers will have the technical knowledge and equipment to photograph your wedding with any conditions presented to them. That being said, mother nature tends to win out on this one. The sun is without a doubt the most natural lighting source known to photography. The trend in Wedding Photography the past few years has been very heavy on natural light photography because it can yield a natural looking photo. Our generation of brides tends to be a little less formal than her parents and grandparents whose wedding portraits consisted of a few images posed at the church alter. Many of today’s brides want a more photojournalistic and candid approach to their wedding photographs. There are many ways to accomplish natural lighting with artificial lights – but due to the amount of time and care it takes to photograph subjects with these set ups – mixed with the fast paced flow of a wedding day – working with all natural light is a very popular choice for today’s wedding photographer.
The first rule in photography lighting are that there are no rules. That being said, most natural light photographers tend to avoid shooting in direct overhead lighting conditions (such as when the sun is the brightest between 11:00am – 3:00 pm) because it creates a harsh, bright lighting source that shadows faces and the subjects tend to be squinting themselves. It’s all entirely dependent on the weather and time of year of course, too. You could have a very overcast day and shoot in the middle of a large lawn with no shade and get some great, evenly-lit photographs. You could come back to that same spot the next day without a cloud in the sky and have a much harder time photographing your subject. Even outside when you are in natural light, you’re going to have many different conditions to work around.
If the sun is down or you are in a room without any natural light, you’re going to have a slightly different look to your photographs. If there is time, your photographer may set up a simple or complex lighting rig with various stand lights or put a professional flash on their camera. They also have the choice to shoot in a mode that they do not need flash but could compromise the amount of grain the images yield. All of these choices will fall upon the style and experience of your photographer. In general however, these images will be darker and more sensitive to surrounding elements like wall color, (did you know wood walls make photos yellowish-orange before post processing?) overhead lighting tints or guest flash photography interference (hello little orange lights on your faces during the cake cutting!)
3. What can I do to utilize the best light on my wedding day?
The good news is that you don’t have to have it all figured out if you’ve hired a wedding photographer whose work you trust. Communication is really the best way to discuss what conditions your wedding photographer prefers to work in. Ask them what time they suggest you start your outdoor ceremony. If you’re getting married inside, ask them what time the light will be best for your couple portraits. Be open to their suggestions to perhaps see one another before the ceremony to do more relaxed and complete photos of you getting ready, couple portraits, bridal party photos and perhaps even some immediate family photos. Then you can enjoy a bit of cocktail hour with your guests or head out for some sunset light photos in a different location. For your own planning purposes, look up what time the sun will set on your wedding day and compare that time to your working wedding schedule.
4. What happens if it rains and everything has to be moved inside? Will my wedding photos be ruined?
If it rains on your wedding day your wedding photos will absolutely not be ruined. There are lots of creative indoor wedding portraits that can be done (even utilizing natural light by large windows) and if you’ve given your photographer enough time to photograph the two of you he or she may be able to set up some cool off-camera lighting inside. With our own wedding clients, even in the rainiest weddings we have managed to take couple portraits in natural light using outdoor overhangs and front porches and umbrellas. Much of these images will depend on how willing you are to venture out into wet outdoor locations (I can assure you that the photographer won’t hold you back!) so many of our brides have cute umbrellas and a pair of boots ready just in case they need them on the wedding day. The plus side is that if it does rain for part of your wedding day, you’ll get the most gorgeous overcast skies that act like a giant soft box with the sun and yield the most beautiful soft light.
5. What’s the number one piece of advice you can give couples to incorporate good lighting conditions during a wedding day?
We encourage our wedding clients to leave an extra 20 minutes during dinner or dancing where they can slip outside into the sunset for some photos during the best light of the day. Our favorite time of the day to photograph is the hour and a half before sunset, so we’ll ask couples to leave 20 minutes or so for us to pull them outside for a few minutes for some supplementary photos. At this point in the day we’ve already gotten the bulk of our couple portraits so these are supplementary but we’ve found that our couples are a bit more relaxed by this point in the day since most of the formalities are over and they are basking in their newlywed glow. They always tend to be some of our favorite images from a wedding day!
If you’ve survived to the end of this post you deserve a wedding planning blue ribbon! Lighting is truly the responsibility of your photographer, but you can set them (and your wedding photos) up for success by communicating and being open to their suggestions of how to make your wedding day timeline adhere to the sun’s schedule for a smashing success.
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Whoa! Tons of great info. I think if you consider this all ahead of time, you’ll be glad you did! So just add it to the checklist of things to get done! And a huge thank you to Kendra for sharing so much valuable insight into making wedding photography all that it can be! Give Kendra and Matthew some love by visiting the Summer Street Photography on their website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!