Yes, whenever and wherever, natural light is my first choice for weddings—just like my portrait sessions outside. And, why not? We’re not limited, like we were on film, on our ISO choices. We have many choices on very fast lenses; our tools have never been better for wedding photography!
Do I bring speed lights on my weddings? Of course, I bring two, for those situations mostly involving action, in low light, usually at the reception. As professionals we should be using the best light in any situation. If I have enough natural light, especially for portraits, that’s ALWAYS the best choice. If there’s no light, I’ll use flash, but never pointed directly at my subject. If there’s some nice low level ambient, for background color, but little on my subject I’ll “drag the shutter” and use indirect flash for a mixed effect.
However, what I’m seeing way too often is photographers using flash EVERYWHERE and all the time! Using flash throughout the wedding creates a sameness to the look of the wedding; different light sources and different qualities of light add artistic interest to the bride’s album.
One of the most often omitted or missed light sources, by many wedding photographers, is Window Light. This is truly shameful because there is NO Better portrait lighting for the bride than window light! It’s not like there’s a shortage of windows in homes or hotels. Since the invention of energy efficient, dual pane, glass there are MORE windows than ever—sometimes too many!
The bridal portrait below was done at one of our favorite hotels with a beautiful hallway next to an outdoor area separated by large windows. The hallway has a mirrored wall on the left and it also ends in a huge mirror—making this spot tricky to use.
We set her up at the white grand piano (see second image) on the left side of the hallway probably 10-feet away from the windows. This is not what you should normally do; your subject should be as close to the window as possible to get the soft light that needs no fill. However, in this case the windows are so large that her light was great—we just got smaller catch-lights in her eyes because of her distance from the window. Then turning her head towards the light until I got that nice triangle of light under her left eye created the final touch. The added bonus is the “kicker light” on the left created by the wall of mirrors; neat!
The image below, of a different bride, in this same location shows most of the hallway.
Working with mirrors on two sides is tricky, but fun too. The downside is that everything and everyone BEHIND me (wedding party & hotel guests) walking to the hotel’s main desk would show in the hall’s end mirror. The cool part is that this is the one place where I could capture the back view and the front view of a bride at the same time! When our lab printed this image they called to ask about, “burning down the statue on the piano”, not realizing that it was the bride’s reflection! That was a pretty amusing conversation.
’Til next week…Anytime you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask….
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Certified, Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com