I absolutely love out door weddings and out door ceremonies. They have a completely different feel then weddings held in churches. They of course fit well into my style of landscape and environment photos. However, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. What time of day you plan your outdoor ceremony can play a big part in the quality of light, which can effect your photographs.
Let’s investigate a few of these topics.
TIME OF DAY FOR THE CEREMONY
The best lighting of the day is the closer you get to sunrise or sunset. Since you will not find many weddings taken place near sunrise, we will concentrate on sunset. The ‘golden time’ of great outdoor light is 1-2 hours from the time of sunset. So the closer you can play your wedding ceremony away from the ‘midday’ light the better off you are going to be. As the sunrises it starts to the side of you, progressives upwards until above you at about half way of it’s cycle. When the sun is directly above you, this can be an inopportune time to have your outdoor ceremony or portrait time as the lighting is not very appealing. Under this lighting scenario it can cause shadows under your eyes like a raccoon. Think about being out to get your hair cut at a salon where the light bulbs are placed directly above you. You look in the mirror and think, wow I look like death. That is the same scenario with this midday sun.
The style of light that you are going to have your date based on the type of cloud coverage, is not something that you are going to be able to control for your wedding. So it is best to give yourself the best opportunity by planning your ceremony time in a location that gets great sun at the desired time you are looking to be outside.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR VENUE FOR THE BEST LIGHT
The best way to check your venue for how it will be on your wedding day is to actually visit the location at the same time of day, and roughly the same period of year that your wedding will take place. If you are planning for a 5pm ceremony in July, then go out in May or June around the same time to have a look. If you have to decide earlier then that, you can move the time back depending on what time of year it is. For instance if the ceremony will be at 5pm in June, but you are looking at it in December, you might take a look closer to 2 or 3pm.
You do have to note however, this will only give you an idea of what it could be, as again you can not plan for what type of clouds you will have the day of your wedding. If it were me, I would visit the location on a day that will be pure sun with not a lot of clouds. I would do this because it would give you the scenario for when the sun will be at it’s strongest and have the most effect on your location.
Things to look for would be:
– Is there a ‘spot light’ effect caused by the sun on the spot we will have the ceremony. This could create very harsh lighting conditions that could cause people to be squinting, or producing harsh shadows that will be hard to control. If this is the case you might want to consider moving it to a spot that is more in the shade. This will also keep your audience from melting in the hot July sun.
– Is there tree coverage? This can be good or bad, again based on the position of the sun at the time you are having your wedding. If it’s at the wrong time, the sun coming through the trees can again cause harsh shadowing on the couple as well as the guests, which will again make photography hard. You have probably seen before where the shadowing of a branch runs across someone’s face. The only way to fix that in photograph would be to smash in fill flash light which can cause a lot of distraction to amazing photojournalism moments that are taking place. To test this, go to your location during the time of day and bring someone with you. Have then stand in the spot where you and your fiance will be for your vows and see if any harsh shadowing from the trees or leaves is interacting with them. If it is, you might want to consider switching the direction of the ceremony layout or again picking another spot at that venue all together, or simply pick a time where the sun is lower in the sky creating less of this impact.
– How hot will it be for our guests? If your having a wedding in June or July, that sun on your guests can be brutal. Especially if you have older individuals at your wedding. If this is the case, again try to pick a time as much as possible where the sun will not be directly above you. The other alternative is to find a shaded area at the time you plan to have your ceremony. Your guests will thank you!
TIME OF DAY FOR PORTRAIT TIME
Very similar to the timing for the ceremony is the timing for your portraits. Now this has a lot more control if your ceremony will be in a church and just your photo time will be outside. In that case you want to plan to be outside the closet to that ‘golden time’ that you can. Again this is 2-3 hours from sunset or as close to it as you can get. Light coming from lower in the sky is a beautiful time to do your photos.
If you are having a late October wedding, you know that sunset time is going to be closer to 5:30pm. In this case you might find that after your ceremony it will be dark outside for ‘portrait time’. A great solution to this is to have your portrait time before your ceremony! We can still set up for you a “first look” so you are able to experience that beautiful moment where you see each other for the first time. We can then take the time to do all of your photos before the ceremony. Some couples opt for this so that they can also go right into the reception after the ceremony.
No matter what your situation, if you hire me for your wedding photographer, I am here to help you through all of this planning. I can help you decide what time would be best in your location for ceremony and portrait time. A quality professional photographer will be able to adapt to the lighting given to them on that day, but it never hurts to set yourself up in optimal conditions to try and create the best photos possible.
I could write an entire book on this topic, and the quality and condition of light for photography. But for now, I will leave you with this brief over view. We can talk about it a lot more in detail when you book your wedding with me, or we can also continue the conversation in the comments section below.
Feel free to leave any questions you have below or send me a message about your wedding!
Light is what helps me create the beautiful images that I do. The balance between light and shadow is what makes truly compelling images.