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Winter weddings come with the opportunity to take some truly romantic photos. The crisp, cold air is filled with an enchanting stillness, giving way to a winter wonderland-esque atmosphere. But with winter wedding photography come unique lighting challenges too. With shorter days and, depending on where you live, even never ending gloomy days, winter wedding lighting may not exactly be what you need to create stunning photos. That’s why we put together this photography lighting for wedding portraits guide with tips to help you get the best photography lighting for winter weddings. So whether it’s the cold spells, rain, or snow - you could always turn to this guide to bring your A-game to winter weddings. 

Lighting Challenges At Winter Weddings

a wedding couple holding hands and walking on a beach in front of a snow capped hillImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @sarafrance

Changing weather conditions and lower temperatures can be challenging to get the right photography lighting for winter weddings. Be it an outdoor wedding surrounded by snow-covered landscapes or winter wedding photos without snow, the skillful application of simple photography lighting techniques could help turn ordinary photographs into beautiful works of art, regardless of weather conditions.

Snowy days can be particularly tricky, creating a silver sheen that blankets the landscape, which in turn makes photographers scramble to find good lighting sources. In such cases, it’s best to avoid direct sunlight as it can be harsh for the photos. Instead, opt for reflective light sources like silver reflectors or white slate boards to bounce off the snow and create a softer, more ethereal look for your images. 

For rainy day lighting, you can use bright backlights to bring out the glistening raindrops and get creative with photography lighting for winter weddings. Even on overcast days, with some off-camera flashes and adjustable exposure settings, you could get dynamic shots that look wonderful for the wedding album. 

Related Read: Winter Wedding Photography: 23 Tips To Nail It

Outdoor Winter Wedding Lighting Tips

a wedding couple embracing each other on the porchImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @apollofields

If you’re a seasoned pro, you probably know how challenging photography lighting for winter weddings can get. Having the sun behind your subjects can create beautiful lighting, but the light temperatures and light levels might require you to be well-versed with color balance and color saturation options. Following are a few tips and winter wedding lighting ideas to get your outdoor photography right:

1. Find The Perfect Natural Light Moment

Winter means shorter and often overcast days, which means the chances of getting bright natural light might be low. But sometimes, you might just get a short window of beautiful natural lighting that could help you take equally beautiful wedding photos, especially during the golden hour. In case the sun doesn’t decide to make an appearance, work with what you have and use the grayness for some dark and moody wedding photos.

2. Create The Right Lighting

infographic stating get fantastic images with the strategic use of ambient lighting and on and off-camera flash

Since you can’t always rely on natural lighting to help you create the images you want, lighting up your scene artificially could get you the desired results. With the strategic use of on and off-camera flash, as well as ambient lighting like fairy lights, lamps, chandeliers, etc, you can get fantastic images regardless of the weather conditions. Use your creative eye to create a balance between the various light sources for beautiful lighting that captures the charm of a winter wedding. You can also experiment with backlighting to deliver stunning silhouettes that pop against colorful backdrops.

Indoor Winter Wedding Photography Lighting Tips

One of the main challenges of winter wedding photography is the low temperatures. So if it’s too cold to shoot outside, go inside! Indoor lighting for wedding photography in winter is a little tricky too. Below are a few tips that could help you light up wedding photos indoors:

1. Take Advantage Of Windows

a wedding bride looking outside the window from a large rounded staircaseImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @taylorkempphotography

When shooting indoors, try to take advantage of whatever natural light you can get. Look for windows, glass doors, or doorways near light sources, and position your subjects where the lighting is ideal. You can always use the light coming from a window as it is or soften it by tying a translucent fabric over it.

2. Create Balance With Artificial Light

When natural lighting is not feasible due to time or location constraints, off-camera lights can be your go-to. You can try bringing in a few external lights to help create a softer setting with a balance of warm tones indoors. Warm light bulbs or candles are also a great addition as they produce a wonderful ambient atmosphere while adding dimension to your photos. When using flash photography and bounce cards as artificial wedding lighting for winters, try to avoid blending light colors together.

3. Get Creative With Colors

For indoor settings, when you’re avoiding direct light, work with diagonal rays and softer illumination to provide more even lighting for the whole photo. If there’s an option for colored gels or other filters, winter weddings offer a great opportunity to play around: Wallowing guests in cool blue or calming green tones adds dimension and mood that you can’t always capture during the summer!

Further Read: Get Inspired: Spectacular Winter Engagement And Wedding Images

a wedding couple shares an intimate moment in the streetImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @apollofields

With shorter days and overcast skies, relying on natural lighting to document a winter wedding might not be the best choice. The ideal game plan would be to carefully plan your wedding photography lighting setup and be ready with your wedding photography lighting equipment on the wedding day. To get the best lighting for winter wedding pictures, try experimenting with different wedding photography lighting techniques and use them creatively at the wedding venue

At ShootDotEdit, we lessen your post-production workload with our professional photo editing services to help you devote more time to growing your business. To learn more about how we can help you, check out our pricing plans.

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