infographic stating the ultimate guide to wedding photography lighting techniques

In wedding photography, lighting's importance cannot be emphasized enough, as it can either enhance a venue's charm or leave it dull and uninspiring. This blog post lists the best wedding photography lighting techniques to help you stay prepared and capture exceptional images. Since every event takes place in a unique setting, there is no go-to wedding photography lighting setup that wedding photographers can rely on. Hence, it’s important to comprehensively understand various wedding photography lighting techniques in different lighting situations. So, let’s dive right in!

The Ultimate Guide To Wedding Photography Lighting Techniques

1. Seeing The Scene Differently

a couple in their wedding dress standing on the stairs of a cathedralImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @robbmccormickphotography

Underexpose the scene with your eyes. By partially closing your eyes and reducing the amount of light that enters, you can identify the light source that remains visible. This approach enables you to quickly scan the scene for illuminated objects that may add to the composition or those that you’d prefer to remove.

Read More: 5 Tips To Identifying The Characteristics Of Photography Lighting

2. Harness The Power Of Natural Light

a wedding couple posing standing on the lawn with bright sunlight in the backgroundImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @brandiallysephoto

Utilizing natural light is highly recommended whenever possible. For instance, outdoor weddings or receptions are perfect settings for taking beautiful photos without requiring additional lighting setups. While it may not always be feasible, natural light minimizes the need for complex off-camera lighting setups. Avoid direct and harsh sunlight or shadows that can create unflattering results in photos. When working indoors, try to position your subjects near windows, as the window light will brighten up their faces and reduce the need for flash photography.

3. Brighten Up Your Shots By Adding Light

a portrait of a girl looking up at a light in a dark roomImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @erinm_photography

One of the basic photography lighting techniques is placing your flash or alternative light source at the desired location to illuminate the subject. If you want a rim light effect, position the flash behind your subject. Alternatively, if you want to add rim light, but include some of the backgrounds too, aim the flash toward a wall behind the couple while keeping them close to the flash. Besides, strobes can be employed and placed in whatever location you’ve chosen to light your subject. Using wedding photography lighting equipment will help you create exquisite wedding photos!

Suggested Read: Top 10 Tips For Indoor Wedding Photography

4. Control Light’s Direction With A Bounce Flash

Bounce flash is one of the most simple but effective photography lighting techniques for controlling light by bouncing it off of nearby walls or ceilings. It results in soft, diffused light and eliminates harsh shadows from a direct flash. To use bounce flash, simply point your lighting gear, such as a speedlight, towards a wall or ceiling and adjust the angle until you get the desired results. Using bounce flash is a great way to add depth and dimension to your photography. Wedding photographers can use this photography lighting technique when working in difficult lighting scenarios.

5. Balance Flash And Ambient Light 

a top down shot of a beautifully lit reception hallImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @jorgesantiagophoto

When shooting at dark wedding venues, achieving a balance between flash and ambient light is crucial. These wedding photography lighting techniques demand meticulous planning and an understanding of how the camera settings work with the flash. Start by lowering your shutter speed to capture both the flash and ambient light in your images. Then, adjust the flash power output until the lighting is harmonized and your subject appears properly illuminated. You should also ensure the ISO setting is optimized to give you good exposure.

6. Shoot In RAW

Shooting in RAW gives you the flexibility to edit your photos in Lightroom or Photoshop. This is important when working in difficult lighting situations. It provides you with greater authority over your images and guarantees that your photography looks impeccable. This is a photography lighting skill that wedding photographers should possess and employ whenever possible. 

7. Use Off-Camera Flash

a groom and his groomsmen smoking a cigarImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @robbmccormickphotography

Using off-camera flash is one of the wedding photography lighting techniques that can help you capture vivid images in dimly lit environments. By strategically positioning and angling your flash units, you can brighten up the scene and eliminate shadows cast by unflattering overhead lighting. Moreover, off-camera flash empowers you to control where the light is placed in the room and how it affects your photography.

Related Read: Top 5 Tips: Off-Camera Flash Setup Strategies For Photographers

8. Use Backlighting 

a silhouette of couple posing holding each other in a barnImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @erinm_photography

Backlighting is a creative photography lighting technique that you can utilize to create unique wedding party portraits. To backlight, you need to position the light source behind the subject, usually with the help of an off-camera flash or other light modifiers. The direction of the light creates a halo effect and accentuates your couple’s wedding attire in ways that traditional front-lit images cannot.

9. Butterfly Lighting

Butterfly lighting is a photography lighting pattern used for taking glamorous portrait photos. Here, the main light source is positioned above and angled downward on the subject’s face, resulting in a dramatic shadow under the nose and chin that resembles a butterfly. With these photography lighting tips, you can create wedding portraits that stand out from the rest!

10. Get Creative With Shadows 

a couple posing standing against a wall while a diagonal shadow falls on themImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @kellyiswilde

When it comes to wedding photography lighting, don’t be afraid to push your creative boundaries. Shadows can add intrigue and depth to photos, so don’t hesitate to explore different angles and perspectives. Utilize the surrounding light and get inventive with your camera flash to produce distinctive images. You should always keep an eye out for interesting patterns, shapes, and textures that can be enhanced with light. 

Inevitably, there will be times when you encounter unfavorable lighting situations. Rather than getting frustrated, stay composed and adaptable so that you can quickly modify your wedding photography techniques if necessary. These wedding photography lighting tips are designed to help you confidently navigate through even the most challenging scenarios and be prepared for anything. 

Further Read: Best Photography Lighting For cold, Rainy, Or Snowy Wedding Portraits

At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you grow your wedding photography business. A part of how we do that is by lessening your post-production workload with our professional photo editing services. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our pricing plans.

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