Regardless of where you shoot your couple’s wedding day images, there will be times you face one challenge after another, including lighting. Moreover, as a professional wedding photographer, what is your job if not just a bunch of challenges that you’ve learned to overcome over time? So, while too much or too little lighting could throw you off your game, there are always things you can do to get your ideal lighting. Since you have no control over the wedding venue or the weather or the time of day you will be shooting in, it is essential to learn how to diffuse light to capture beautiful shots, and that’s what this blog is going to teach you to do.
How To Diffuse Light For Wedding Photography
There are several types of lighting in photography. As a photo editing service for photographers, we see plenty of lighting scenarios that can be applied during a shoot. Diffused light is usually softer than direct or natural light and produces softer shadows on your clients.
Shooting in this type of light helps you capture details you may not see in harsh lighting, creating unique images your clients will love. Learning how to diffuse light for photography may seem like it can be a hassle, but it is actually a simple process for you to incorporate into your shoots. We’ve put together 4 easy steps to help you work with unflattering light and create images that will impress your couple.
1. Understand How Light Works
Before you begin diffusing the light, it is important to understand exactly how light works. The results you will get from the light start with how big the source is in comparison to your couple. It could be light coming directly from the sun and bounced off of a large flat surface, such as a white reflector or sunlight hidden behind clouds. Remember, the further away the light is, the smaller it becomes. This can mean that the harsher the lighting, the more unfavorable details are highlighted on your couples’ faces. Knowing how to shoot in harsh lighting is an art on its own and one that every wedding photographer should add to their skill set.
Diffused light is flat and even and can be one of the best lighting situations for wedding photography. When you place your clients under diffused light, there will be less of a chance that unflattering lines or shadows will fill their faces. As you learn how to diffuse light from the light source, you can make better use of the soft light, which will help you create beautiful images of your clients that they will appreciate.
2. Use a Fabric Diffuser
As a busy photographer, it is necessary for you to have gear that you can quickly set up to assist you with diffusing the light. To gain more control of the way that light falls on your clients, use a fabric diffuser, such as a pop-up reflector. A fabric diffuser is portable, lightweight, and can typically be placed right in your camera bag. Some diffusers can attach to your camera, covering the flash to soften the light from your on-camera flash.
As you shoot indoors, you can use a sheer piece of fabric to diffuse the light and create a natural window light look for your images. The idea is to separate your subjects from the background but avoid placing too much light on their faces. Using a fabric diffuser is a quick and inexpensive trick you can use to shoot with to create diffused light for the images.
Suggested Read: The Complete Wedding Photography Equipment Guide
3. Utilize Tools To Diffuse Light
In addition to using fabric diffusers, there are other tools you can use to create soft lighting. Try using a softbox, which is adaptable and portable for photographers to use. Place the softbox over spotlights or off-camera flashes to create flat and even lighting for your shoot. Softboxes are resourceful light fillers since they do not cast harsh shadows on your couple, and the light is more controllable compared to a shoot through umbrella. Softboxes can be easily used to diffuse the light source in any lighting situation and can give you the light you desire to use during the shoot.
To get better lighting for wedding photography, you can also try out some DIY light diffusing methods- like how to make a homemade light diffuser for photography. To learn how to diffuse light from LED, you need to understand that diffusing light is more about softening and spreading the light. For DIY light softbox diffusers, you can use parchment paper, tissue paper, printer paper, or a light diffuser paper.
Our tip: In an outdoor shoot, place your off-camera flash on a light stand behind your couple, and have your second shooter hold the flash with the umbrella in front of them. Not only will this give you an even light, but you will also create a dramatic background for your image. Working with diffused light in this manner will utilize tools you already have to create some exciting images. Read our blog on using off-camera flash to learn more about it.
4. Work With Natural Diffusers
In most of your wedding shoots, you will often have natural diffusers that can help you capture the shots you want to create with off-camera light. No – we’re not talking about off-camera photography gear that you bring with you or backlighting techniques you can use – we’re talking about utilizing what nature gives you as your diffused light. This doesn’t always work out, but when it does, it is a simple way to incorporate diffused light photography into your shoot. The perfect example of a natural diffuser is when the sky is overcast, and the clouds allow only a bit of light to shine through. The light you receive from this type of sky will be similar to what you could produce with equipment.
Shooting in a bright environment like the beach will pose challenges if the sun is out, and that is another setting where learning how to diffuse light for photography can come in handy. Snow and sunlight can pose a similar lighting challenge too. If you are in an outdoor shoot where the sky is clear and the sun is bright, reposition the bride and groom to a place that will provide shade. For instance, if you are shooting in an area that has surrounding buildings or trees, move your couple there to capture a diffused light. The objects you place the bride and groom under can help you bounce light, placing the right amount of light on their faces.
Having the ability to create and work with diffused lighting in any situation gives you the chance to produce beautiful images, regardless of the location of the shoot. The more control you have over the lighting, the better your images will look (and the happier your clients will be). Practice is the key to perfection, so whenever you do find some extra time on your hands, experiment with different light diffusing techniques and find out which ones align with your aesthetic. This will help you become more comfortable shooting in different situations, and you will become a more capable photographer.At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you build your wedding photography business. We aim to help you get to where you want to be easier and faster. We also offer professional photo editing services to lessen your post-production workload so you can focus on getting more business. To learn more about how we can help, check out our pricing plans.