To most people, light can be a foreign language. Photography literally means “The study of light,” when you break down the word. I have spoken with brides on numerous occasions regarding lighting when choosing their venue and engagement photography locations. Our ideal bride values her images, and will do the best to make sure that they come out amazing on their wedding day. In order to create the absolute best pictures, we need to have the best lighting.
Lighting is everything when it comes to wedding photography. You can take an image with an iPhone with perfect lighting, and one on our Canon 5D Mark II with a $2500 lens, and the iPhone image will look much better because of the lighting. Photographers need to understand light, and all types of it. First we will talk about natural light, and then we will talk about strobes (Wedding Photographers MUST be able to understand off-camera lighting)
Natural Light can be absolutely beautiful. You will hear of a lot of photographers advertising that they are “natural light” photographers. Natural light is absolutely beautiful if you understand how to use it in wedding photography. The first rule that photographers learn is that images taken in high sunlight are not ideal for wedding photography. When the sun is high in the sky, and it is bright out, the sun will create unflattering shadows under the face. Ideally you want to shoot around sunset for the best images.
So what time should I plan my ceremony?
Most venues will offer an early ceremony, or a late one. You have to look at the time of year, and your situation to determine the best time for your ceremony. Here is my take (this applies to outdoor ceremonies). I believe that if you are doing a first look, and we can take your bride and groom images mostly during the daytime, then plan your wedding ceremony around sunset. This way we can take your portraits, which are controlled, while there is still natural light outside. Your ceremony, which is an uncontrolled situation, will best be shot around sunset. This way we can expose the image properly, and keep that soft lighting you will see in magazines.
Again, we cannot stress enough how important proper planning is for your wedding. Our ideal bride will book us 12-18 months in advance, and be sending us timeline info 4 months before the big day. We act as consultants as well as wedding photographers, and we are more than happy to help you plan for the best wedding photos in Los Angeles. Please do not hesitate to give us a call.
Now that natural light is out of the way, let’s talk briefly about off-camera flash.
This a very important section. Off-Camera Flash is CRUCIAL to receiving wedding photos that are unique and artistic, and truly one of a kind. Whether your wedding is in Santa Clarita, Malibu, or Los Angeles, and no matter what time of day, a photographer that understands how to use off-camera lighting, will be able to create amazing pictures.
Lighting situations at weddings are often not ideal. Using a flash is a sure way to get the light needed to take images at your reception. The problem is, most wedding photographers will likely through the flash on the camera, and fire away in ETTL (automatic) mode. You know the images you have taken at a nightclub with your point and shoot camera, the ones that resulted in red eyes, shiny faces and such? Well using an on camera direct flash on a $5,000 camera will get you the exact same results. (To the photographers reading I am not talking about bounce flash, we will get to that later).
Remember the “natural light” photographers we talked about earlier? While natural light can be beautiful, and preferred by some, a lot of those photographers do not understand off-camera lighting. Why? It is daunting, and it may not be a required skill for their type of photography (baby photography for instance).
Wedding photography is a whole different ballgame. Off-Camera flash is, in my opinion, an essential trait to truly make your images stand out.
What are the downsides? Well for one, off-camera flash is difficult to use, and if not used properly can yield bad results. You cannot move your flashes around that easy, so photographers have to know how to pick their spots.
I will usually coach couples before hand on how to be aware of our lights, and how to position themselves in relation to them. Again this is client specific, and if you are reading this, you are probably a client who is mindful about how her final images will turn out. We go over this in our interview process, and we have turned down weddings where we didn’t feel that we would be a good fit for the couple’s needs. Some people prefer their photographer to just show up and take pictures, those are not the clients that are a good fit for us.
Bounce flash is a technique used to quickly light a room with soft even light, and still maintain the versatility of an on camera flash. This is the technique used by a lot of wedding photographers in Los Angeles, and one we use from time to time. We will use bounce flash often for dance shots when the dance floor gets crowded and the DJ turns off the ambient lights. The image above was used with a bounce flash. Bounce flash is an essential tool, and your Santa Clarita wedding photographer should at least be familiar with this technique.
Not all light is created equal. Have you been to Disneyland? If you are here in Los Angeles, or Orange County, I am sure you have. Remember The Haunted Mansion? The yellow lights in the elevator are similar to most wedding venues, and they are not the same color as daylight, or flash-created light. Wedding photographers must manage their colors properly to get images that are more pleasing to the eye. There are techniques to do this, but because this article is created for brides and not photographers, I will not bore you with them. The important thing is that your wedding photographer understands how to match his or her flashes to the dominant ambient light source, and that they have a proper editing program to correct the colors in post production.
So there you have it. I hope that I was able to shed some light on the creative process, in order to better help you plan your day. With a small amount of knowledge of the way wedding photographers view light, you will be able to plan your day so that we can create the best wedding photos in Los Angeles. Again I want to stress that we are available for any questions you have regarding planning your wedding, even if you have chosen to use us or someone else.