January 22, 2020
When touring your venue, did you picture exactly where you want the arbor to go? Where you would walk down the “aisle”? And where guests could sit? It’s so excited to picture the most monumental moment of your wedding day! But slow down… there’s one more thing to consider: ceremony lighting!
I know what you’re thinking.
“Isn’t that the photographer’s job?”
The answer to that is: “Well, yes, except during the ceremony.”
The ceremony is the only part of the day when the environment limits our ceremony lighting options. Often, we have no opportunity to provide our own expertise regarding ceremony lighting before a layout is agreed upon. So we adapt.
But, if you want to know how to get the best ceremony photos, here are a few things to consider!
Photographers often capture intimate moments inside of dark churches or ballrooms with limited window lighting. To make things more complicated, these spaces often use artificial tungsten lighting. Indoor lights are a different color than the natural light coming from windows. Why does this matter?
When two different colored sources of light are visible, it casts odd shadows and discoloration on skin. Sometimes this can be improved in the editing process. But it usually takes longer or some photos might have to be edited in black & white to salvage them from bad coloring.
See the example below of a bouquet shot from an indoor ceremony at Mount Ida Farm in Charlottesville, VA. If you look at the left side of the image (especially the second bridesmaid’s back), you see a blue-ish light coming from the left. Meanwhile the rest of the image is warm and leans more towards orange tones.
The reason for this is the light coming through the window on the left. It hits the bridesmaids’ skin and results in cool, natural light. Meanwhile, the overhead lights inside are warmer in color, making the rest of the image much more orange. Thanks to editing software, I greatly improved it from the original taken in my camera. But skin tones are still not perfect.
This works for many of the images taken during the ceremony. But some of the most intimate memorable moments lost some value because of the distracting discoloration. To fix this, I often make these images black & white (such as the ring exchange example below).
For the reception, it’s common to use flash to counter limited lighting. But for ceremonies, flash is often prohibited by the venue. Also, imagine how distracting it would be for guests to have bright lights randomly fired in their peripheral view.
If you are planning an indoor ceremony, ask your venue what lighting options you have. Below are a few questions you want to be sure to ask your venue coordinator!
Once you have these questions answered, be sure to relay the information to your wedding photographer! This way he/she knows how best to prepare!
Outdoor ceremonies are my preference every time (though I realize weather is a huge factor here!) But even with all the access to natural light, some venue layouts can pose unforeseen challenges.
Some challenges include:
Conversely, some ideal situations include:
Some great questions to ask your venue coordinator for an outdoor ceremony include:
You deserve to preserve this part of your day in the best way possible. That’s why lighting can play such a major role in your photography experience! If you intend to hang ceremony images on your walls, you want to make sure it that the photos are as artful as the moment itself felt at the time.
Still confused about how to analyze your venue lighting? I’m happy to talk to you about it, whether I’m your photographer or not! Feel free to contact me through my “General” contact form to ask any questions you may have. I want you to have the best ceremony photos possible!
Copyright 2021. Alexandria, VA wedding & portrait photographer.
Serving brides and grooms in the Washington, D.C., northern Virginia, & Maryland region... and beyond!
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