If you've ever spent time around a photographer, you've probably heard them say something like "the light's really pretty right now". Or maybe (if you're like my partner, Karl) you've been forced to sit through many mini photo shoots because you're eating breakfast in a pretty patch of light, or the light is just too good to keep driving so a roadside photo shoot it is!
I promise there are reasons we go so crazy over light. Once you train that muscle to see light, you can't turn it off. You start to see little pops of potential magic everywhere. As I write this, my office has the prettiest warm sunset light. All I have to snap a photo of is an end-of-season-messy-desk. (...I still will take a photo of it. Because magic).
This blog post is going to break down why we photographers love light so much. We'll chat why every photographer on this team will make so many comments about light. Why do we stop to take your photos one place and not another? We will also share what you can do to make sure your session or wedding day has the best lighting possible.
When it comes to light, quality matters much more than quantity.
From getting ready to end of day partying, light sets the tone for how your images look. When I walk into you childhood home or airbnb the morning of your big day, I will first be considering all the little spaces that exist with beautiful pockets of light, and how I can use them to best shoot your images. You’ll often see me turning off those yellow interior lights in favour of small patches of window light. And while it might seem dark (and I might have to stop people from turning them back on to “help” me haha!) I promise it’s intentional. Why? Again, quality matters more than quantity.
There are many beautiful ways to document a wedding. We shoot the way we do - moody, emotive, candid - because that's the way we have developed our art to be. For me, looking for and capturing small slices of light is more emotive than an image flushed with light. Developing my understanding of light has helped me to be a consistent artist who is always able to deliver candid, moody imagery to my clients.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with the image on the left here, but we prefer the right. I love that you can see the details in her veil, the background, the special dress hanger. The shadows leave something to the imagination.
This style of shooting also allows us be a bit sneaky. We can shoot things otherwise unseen with the faintest hint of light to reveal them to us. Thinking about light this way is ideal for storytelling.
You’ve hired us because you love our moody + emotive form of storytelling. This all comes down to light! However, moody doesn’t mean under-lit; it means finding the best quality of whatever light is available and using it. We love looking for directional natural light. On a cloudy day, on a sunny day, inside a tent or in a forest - finding the light and shooting as you interact in it is what we're all about.
You can help add some mood and emotion to all parts of the day by adding ambient light. A combination of string lights + candles on tables at a reception is a dream come true for us. String lights add beautiful warm light overhead, while candles help to light your faces with that same warmth from below. Not to mention, both add a cozy, intimate aesthetic to the evening!
Over the day, we will move around to capture things in the best light; we’ll make slight adjustments to make sure you two are cuddled up in the best spot, or Grandma is getting her corsage put on in the most beautiful way possible. We’ll do our role, but there are things that you can do to help, too:
- Keep spaces by windows clear of clutter while you’re getting ready for the day, so that we can use these spaces to our advantage in the morning.
- Trust that if we recommend one spot over what might *seem* like a better location, it’s because of light. Yes, backgrounds can be fun… but our style is built on light, and a location with quality light will photograph better than a poor-lighted cool background every time.
- As mentioned above, add ambient light to your reception. And remember, while the head table might be the most important, adding beautiful light to other tables (especially parents, grandparents and others whom we’ll be snapping lots of candids of) + the podium/speech area matters just as much!
- If there’s flexibility in start time OR location of your ceremony, ask us for recommendations. Whether it’s shifting the ceremony by half an hour, or moving from full sun to the shade - a small change can make a big difference!
- Avoid funky-coloured lighting/uplighting until it’s dance time! While purple lights might feel like a good idea when your DJ recommended it, remember that purple lights = purple skin. While we can tweak, we can’t erase the fact that those Barney-tones were around for all of dinner.
- Reminder: quality over quantity. Beautiful natural light is better than normal indoor yellow light. String lights and candles are better than full banquet lighting. The outdoors is always our playground, but early morning or later evening light always takes the cake.
Coming soon in the 5 Things Your Photographers Want You to Know series:
- Airbnb vs. Hotel Rooms (+ other things you might not think of)
- Portraits Alllll Day: Building a Timeline that Flows + Allows for Authenticity
- Setting the Foundation: Starting the Day in Peace
- Why We Always Recommend a First Look (and why you don’t have to do one)
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