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An Overview of the Art of Moody Wedding Photography

Just as the name suggests, a moody photography style aims to highlight the mood of a scene. It is sometimes used to shift the viewer’s eye to the emotion unfolding, and at other times, it is used to focus on the drama and ambiance of a scene. Moody wedding photography is a niche paving its way in the industry, and we are seeing more wedding photographers incorporating this style of photography into the wedding day – even during the ceremony and couple’s portraits. While light and airy, documentary, or editorial may be your go-to vibe, in this blog, we will share different tips that will help you get familiar with a more moody wedding photography style.

What is Moody Photography?

Blue tinted dark and moody wedding photo of a bride and groom sitting in at the front of a stairway of a place
Image Credit @hummelphoto

Being associated with dark and mysterious photos is just one aspect of the moody photography style. This style is about capturing intensity – from emotions to powerful scenes – that stir something in the viewer. It is primarily a creative blend of lighting and composition in an artistic way that is usually thought-provoking and showcases emotional depth in images. This form of photography often makes use of low-lit indoor situations and natural lighting. But it can also be a post-processing effect, a color tone applied that darkens shadows and minimizes highlights, sometimes even adding darker brown tones to images. In this post, we are going to focus more on the “capture” and less on the post-process!

Moody Wedding Photography Tips & Tricks

Moody photos can be created in different ways. Listed below are some of the tips and tricks that can help you create compelling moody wedding photos.

1. Play With Shadows

Black and white photo of a groom with groomsmen smoking cigars
Image Credit @robbmccormickphotography

Light – or the lack thereof – plays a vital role in creating a moody setting. One way to nail this wedding photography style is to look for natural light sources such as windows, doorways, and any area where a single light source is coming into a dark space. The best scenes naturally have shadows in most parts of the frame and leave only a specific area highlighted, making it a wonderful setting to create moody images. Try turning off all the overhead or existing lights in the space and closing all curtains except for one. Then, use only one light source from the remaining uncovered window to illuminate your subject. Place your subject at an angle to the window light and ask him or her to turn only their face towards it.

Black and white photo of a bride and groom posing in a dark room in front of a window
Image Credit @erinm_photography

Another trick would be to look for Chiaroscuro light. Chiaroscuro is a lighting technique used by great portrait masters as well as artists and cinematographers. It can be used in color but is often seen in black and white images. It is key for creating stunning moody wedding images. This technique uses light and shadow to define an image. A go-to setup for this kind of lighting can easily be found in any small dark room with a window as a light source. Pay attention to wherever the light falls in the room and pose your subjects accordingly. Needless to say, understanding the Chiaroscuro technique can help when creating moody wedding photos.

2. Remove Unnecessary Objects Around the Subject

Most moody photos are photographed under low-lit or dimly lit scenarios, naturally diluting many highlights in the picture so that the viewer’s focus or attention is easily drawn to a central subject or a well-lit subject within a dark space. It would be best if you steered clear of unnecessary objects around your main subject so that the viewer’s gaze remains where you want it to be. Moreover, having a lot of elements in the background can be distracting, so selectively arrange things to achieve the look you want.

Editing tip: If you cannot eliminate distractions when shooting, you can also consider adding a vignette later to darken down the edges of the image.

3. Use a Monochrome Color Scheme

Images in black and white work with a moody style

Introducing a monochrome color scheme can help make an image more dark and moody. Enhancing the shadows and increasing the contrast in a black and white image can help increase the moodiness. Whether you decide to photograph in black and white or add it in the post-production editing phase of your workflow, either way, it adds depth to your images.

4. Bring Focus to the Eyes

This is more about moody imagery than dark and moody, and your subject’s eyes can sometimes do more talking than the entire image. When framed right, since they are such a powerful facial element, eyes can add both impact and a hint of mystery in an image. Moreover, focusing on the subject’s eyes in a scenario where there are very few distracting elements in the background can make them appear even more fascinating.

5. Add Grain

Adding slight noise and grain to an image can sometimes make it look more artistic by giving it a more film-like look and can help enhance the scene’s dark and moody vibe.

Further Read: Going Against The Grain In Wedding Photography

Enhance Your Images With Color Correction

Bride and groom posing in a forest area
Image Credit @sierrasolisphotography

At times, there are limitations to what you can achieve in the camera even with the best lighting. So moodier tones can be enhanced even more when you are color correcting your images post-process. Use vignettes, darken the shadows, make areas of interest stand out by increasing brightness within the dark backgrounds, and even use presets to apply an overall dark tone to your images. Just be mindful of whether you are moving too far away from realistic skin tones in doing so. Moderation is key when it comes to making an impact with dark and moody images.

If editing is taking too much of your time, ShootDotEdit can help by doing it for you. From editing effortlessly to matching your style, our professional photo editing services help you achieve the finesse you seek in the result.


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