A collage of an infographic and two low-light wedding photographs

Think back to your recent shoots, or even ones from years ago. When was the last time everything went perfectly during one of your wedding shoots? There are distractions and issues that occur during the wedding day, some that you can control and others that you have no control over, and this is something you learn very quickly as a photographer. But, when things go wrong, it is necessary to be prepared and know how to capture images your couples hired you to take. This is especially true when it comes to low light photography. You can’t always control the lighting at the venue, especially when your couple is getting married at a church, but there are tricks that you can turn to to still get stunning photos of your couple’s day. From having better control over your camera settings to getting acquainted with the venue in advance, in this blog, we share some tips on how you can tackle poor lighting at your couple’s wedding venue.

How To Ace Low Light Photography 

Infographic stating explore the venue beforehand, use ambient lighting, and control your camera settings

Picture this. You connect with your couple, they book you, and you prepare for their wedding. When you arrive at the location, you realize the venue or church does not allow any flash or off camera photography lighting to be used. Because you have to fulfill your commitment to the couple, you scramble to find a solution to shooting in the dark without flash. Or perhaps you’re just the victim of a dark indoor wedding photography location. Sometimes the most romantic and charming locations are actually dimly lit to create that ambiance. That is some of what makes it so charming… but it also can make your job a lot harder. Whether it’s venue rules or equipment failure or your couple requesting you to not use the flash, there can be many scenarios why you might find yourself in a situation where you are required to create gorgeous photographs using low light photography, and when you find yourself in that situation, the below tips can help.

Suggested Read: All About Natural Light Wedding Photography

1. Work With Ambient Light

A high-angle shot of a banquet hall during a wedding receptionImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @jorgesantiagophoto

Even if you are someone who usually follows the natural light wedding photography style, understanding how to shoot in the dark without flash (and only ambient light) can make a significant difference in your abilities. Light from a window or doorway, street lights, or any additional lighting in a location can be considered as ambient lighting, and it’s important to learn how to work with these sources of light because you never know when you will have to use them to light up your couple’s wedding photos. 

If your couple is getting married in a venue that does not allow flash photography, then we would highly recommend that you check out the location in advance to see the kind of ambient light you will have to work with. Ideally, visit the location around the time that you will actually be working there. This can help you quickly position yourself during the wedding day, rather than wasting time looking around for light during the shoot. During every part of the shoot, look for windows, doors, and surrounding light to enhance the way your photographs will look. You could also try connecting with the venue you are shooting at ahead of time to see if you can use some non-intrusive LED lights or continuous lights instead of a flash. You can also ask if the lights in the church or other location (if there are lights) can be turned on or up.

2. Adjust Camera Settings

Infographic stating get acquainted with your camera and how it can make shooting in low light easy for you

Another extremely helpful tip for low light photography is to really make use of your camera to help you shoot better. Once you get better acquainted with your camera and learn to control it, you don’t always have to rely on lighting. Start with the ISO setting and adjust it to be higher so your camera becomes sensitive to the light it’s receiving. This also means you might need to adjust your shutter speed and aperture so you allow more light to enter your camera to help you achieve the images you desire. These adjustments are especially helpful when you are in a location, such as a church, that doesn’t allow you to use flash. If you decide to work with ISO settings for low light wedding photography and do not want to risk the quality of your images, you could also consider using a monopod. The monopod can help you capture more stable shots by reducing the camera shake so you can avoid delivering blurry images.

Suggested Read: Best Wedding Cameras: A Comparative Analysis

3. Choose The Correct Lens 

Infographic stating when photographing in a low light situation, pick a lens with the widest aperture

As you choose a lens to use for low light photography, we suggest that you select one that has the widest aperture. When you use a lens with a wide aperture, you allow as much light as possible into the frame. This allows you to take photos without a flash, which is perfect for locations that will not allow you to use additional light sources. In a situation where you have limited light, and cannot use a flash, this is something to consider when you choose the lenses to bring along with you. Even if you have a lens with a wide aperture, you do not always have control over every lighting situation. To combat this, shoot in RAW for the best results. When you shoot in RAW, the image has more information that can later be salvaged in Lightroom by a wedding photography editing company, like ShootDotEdit. Think about it this way. If you take a photo in the church and all you can see is the window light, and the rest of the photo is dark, there is a higher chance the rest of the image can be lightened and sent to your couples when shot in RAW.

Be Prepared 

A silhouette of a bride and groom posing in a dimly lit hallImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @erinm_photography

Like we said earlier, whether you will be shooting outdoors at night, or indoors in a dark ceremony or reception hall, do your best to know the makeup of your location ahead of time. The more research you can do ahead of time, the more you will be prepared for a low light photography situation. You can’t change your couple’s venue, but you can definitely put in the work to give them stunning wedding photographs despite not having an ideal lighting situation. That is why they thought you were the best person for the job, right? Once you know you will be shooting in low light, spend some time reviewing your camera settings. That way, when you are at the wedding shooting images, you will be that much further ahead. As you discover how to shoot in the dark without flash, and create low light photography, you expand your photography skills. The more you learn and experiment, the easier it will be for you to shoot in any location possible. 

Further Read: Photography Basics For Beginners: All About Depth Of Field

At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you grow as a wedding photographer. To help you get more time to do things you love (like photographing weddings), we take editing off your plate with our professional photo editing services that match your style. To learn more about how we can help, check out our pricing plans

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published