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All About Natural Light Wedding Photography

With its roots in Greek, the word photography literally means ‘drawing with light.’ So when we speak of taking images with the camera, we can’t proceed any further without discussing the importance and impact of light on the resultant images. While there are endless options for lighting equipment, many photographers choose natural light wedding photography. This style of photography allows you to simply document a moment as it is – organic and natural, without having to pause the scene to fix the lighting setup. However, even though many photographers prefer this style to document their couple’s big day, it can get tricky, especially in indoor venues. In this blog, we take you through the different sides of this style of photography and what you can do to perfect it.

What is Natural Light Wedding Photography

Infographic stating natural light photographers focus on using only available light sources

In simple words, the concept of natural light wedding photography does not involve any artificial photography lighting techniques. As a natural light wedding photographer, you would be more inclined to use the available natural sources of light – be it outdoors or indoors. You may also use any ambient light such as lamps, chandeliers, street lights, string lights, or candles. Basically, anything that’s a part of the setting already. This type of wedding photography is often described as soft, bright, and glowing, and the golden hour photos are one of the most common examples of this photography style.

The Benefits of Natural Light Wedding Photography

1. A Good Option For Camera Shy Couples

Initially, many of your couples may feel conscious or uncomfortable in front of the camera. But if you are just using natural light to take their photos, the lack of lighting setup might just help them relax into it. Heavy lighting equipment can sometimes make a camera-shy couple feel overwhelmed, which also tends to reflect in the photos. A natural setting could help them feel more comfortable with you and the camera.

2. Great For Portraits

Another benefit of shooting in natural light is the effect it has on skin tones. When soft and indirect, natural light can be flattering for your models and even give them a glowing effect. Taking photos during the golden hour, in an area with partial shade or near large windows can help you achieve that effect.

3. Minimal Equipment Needed

Infographic stating natural light photographers benefit from needing minimal equipment

The biggest pro of natural light wedding photography is that you don’t need to carry around lighting equipment. You can simply use the existing light, which naturally gives you the desired result. It also saves you time as you don’t have to set up your equipment every time you change spots, giving you more time to take pictures and stay in the moment with your couple.

Related Read: 3 Simple Steps For Shooting At Sunset With Natural Light

The Limitations of Natural Light Wedding Photography

1. Not Possible at All Venues

While outdoor locations are ideal for natural light photography, indoor venues with naturally available sources of light can also work well for this style. However, if it rains or the reception continues long after the sun goes down, you may not have the option to continue without any lighting equipment. In the same way, if your venue is poorly lit or extremely dark without any windows or other sources of light, you might have to find ways to light up your photos using artificial lighting.

Related Read: How To Shoot In Small And Dark Wedding Venues

2. Uncertainty About Lighting Conditions

Due to the lack of lighting equipment required, shooting in natural light might seem very simple, but it is an art just like any other style of photography. As a natural light photographer, you need to be an expert in tackling all kinds of lighting situations and know how to make unfavorable settings also work out for you. Uncertain weather conditions and dark venues can make it especially difficult to use this style of wedding photography. Be well-prepared and know what to do if the natural light settings are less than ideal.

3. Might Need to Use Artificial Lighting

Infographic stating it can be hard to shoot using only natural light, especially inside or in the dark

Natural light photography might not always mean the complete absence of artificial lighting. Many wedding photographers who use the natural lighting technique for weddings have to sometimes use flashes for backlighting or side lighting to get certain photographs right. So even natural light enthusiasts have to sometimes turn to artificial light sources to enhance the natural light and improve the quality of the image.

Tips To Help You Ace This Photography Style

Like we said above, natural light wedding photography is no child’s play. While you may not require elaborate setups, you need a certain level of expertise and knowledge of how natural light works to capture those breathtaking photos that this style of photography allows. Below are some tips that can help you get a better idea of how to use natural light for your photos.

  • Know the Time of Sunset: You can use this website to know the timings of sunrise and sunset on the wedding day, and if possible and practical, try to plan photographs accordingly to get the best results. We’d suggest that you discuss this with your couple in advance. There is a particular timeline that all weddings follow, and adhering to that is also crucial for you.
  • Look For Shade: Tall trees and the shade created by buildings can help enhance the photos if you are shooting midmorning or during the afternoon. Dense tree canopies that do not have dappled sunlight might be able to provide you the needed midday shade when doing natural light wedding photography.
  • Soften Bright Light Coming From Windows: If the light coming through the windows is too bright for photographs, you can soften it by covering the windows with a translucent fabric. You can ask the venue manager to help you fix the fabric on a rod or any other way possible.
Infographic stating look for open shade or windows to maximize natural light
  • Use Fill Flash: If you want to bring out details of your couple’s attire, you may consider using fill flash as a backlight or sidelight and add that glow to the image. If you backlight the image with the sun, your couple might be underexposed. Fill flash will help you create more contrast and allow your couple and the sky to be properly photographed. You can also use a reflector at an angle that helps add light to your couple’s face. However, if you are backlighting the photo using the sun, you might be able to get some lovely silhouettes.
  • Spot Meter for Couple’s Face: You can use the spot meter for your couple’s face to ensure they are properly exposed. When shooting in the matrix or evaluative metering mode, your camera takes into account the overall exposure of your image. So with backlighting, your couple would look darker. In this case, if you place your couple against a darker background, you will be able to maintain the contrast.

Related Read: 3 Tips To Better Natural Light Photography

Becoming a pro at natural light wedding photography might need a lot of patience. Since you depend on naturally available light sources in this style of photography, there are always chances of things taking a turn for the worse. And more often than not, you might not have any control over these situations. However, if you are determined and confident about your choice, putting time and effort into practicing this style will definitely benefit your wedding photography business.

At ShootDotEdit, we love sharing tips that help you get familiar with different wedding photography styles. We also offer photo editing services so that you can focus on your craft and leave the post-production to us. To learn more about how we can help speed up your turnaround time, take a look at our pricing plans.


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