When it comes to outdoor wedding photography, there’s one golden rule: follow the light. Natural lit photos have a softer glow than those with artificial light, but keep in mind that your photos won’t necessarily look like your Pinterest board. However, following our simple tips will make all the difference in lighting your wedding photographs like a dream.
First, your wedding photographer will tell you to avoid formal photos during the day. The sunlight is really harsh at that time, so go for early morning or late afternoon instead. Snapping personal portraits during cocktail hour usually exudes the best lighting simply because it’s an ideal time of day. Of course, this will depend on where your wedding is located in terms of region.
What’s Your Wedding Season?
Although the sun sets early during the colder months, your location is everything. A West Coast sunset is going to be much later than a Midwest sunset, for example. So if you’re located farther east, be sure to take your formal wedding portraits sometime in the morning. If you're looking for a moody, cinematic effect, shooting later in the day is just fine.
On the other end of the spectrum, golden hour is prolonged during winter. In fact, all day is essentially golden hour because the sun doesn’t get too high - major perks of having a winter wedding!
Note: Golden hour is that majestic time of day just before sunset when the light is warm, soft and stunning. Also called magic hour - for good reason.
Ah, the freedom of summer. During these warmer months, you can easily shoot outdoors pretty much all day long because the sun stays high in the sky until later. But if you’re having an outdoor wedding, be sure to plan for this. The last thing you want is to look washed out or squinty in every shot. Keep in mind that your photographer will have you looking directly into the sunlight to capture the photos. This is best practice for photography - the camera has to be pointed away from the sun. Golden hour into early evening are idea for capturing the best images.
General Outdoor Wedding Photography Tips
Clouds Are Your Friend
Don't be apprehensive about it being cloudy on your wedding day! Overcast skies create the best lighting, therefore, the best photographs. And if it rains on your parade? That’s OK! Not only is this good luck, but it’s a forecast for rich, high-contrast lighting.
Watch Sparks Fly
Before you call it a night, be sure to sneak away from your reception for a few night portraits. And when you’re really ready to make a run for it, the iconic sparkler send-off is the ultimate nighttime shot.
It’s best to stage this moment earlier when there’s still a hint of light outside so your wedding photographer can set up a flash to get the effect just right. Just note that as prepared as your photographer might be, the background of this photo will be close to pitch black. The only objects that will be clear are what’s within the flash range or near the sparklers. But if you spark the send-off a smidge earlier, you also get ambient light that picks up colors in the sky and the surrounding objects.
Keep the Faith
At the end of the day, you need to trust your wedding photographer. They might place you in unexpected positions, use a flash during the day or have you looking into the sun, but just go with it and try to have fun. Your photographer has you covered and will stop at nothing to capture the light you two exude together.