How Light Affects Your Wedding Photos

If there’s one thing that has the single biggest effect on your wedding photos, it’s definitely lighting conditions. Lighting, whether natural sunlight or artificial incandescent lights, drastically affects the overall feeling of the photos. Shooting at noon on a sunny day produces a much different result than sunset on a partly cloudy day. Taking portraits indoors, like in a church, can have certain limitations that aren’t an issue when shooting outdoors in natural light. Of course, an experienced photographer knows the ins and outs of each of these scenarios and will most certainly provide recommendations for the best possible result.

Soft Natural Light

The best conditions a photographer could ask for is some soft natural daylight. One or two hours before sunset is the absolute best time to take photos. This is why we always recommend planning your portrait session during this time of day. What exactly is the difference between soft light and hard light? Soft lighting is less direct and less powerful. On a technical level, this means that the difference between the brightest areas and darkest areas will be less severe. Ultimately, this makes photos feel more romantic and people look most attractive.

Direct sunlight

Since many weddings take place outdoors in warmer months, it’s inevitable that some of your photos will be in mid-day direct sunlight. While this is okay for candids or other secondary photos, we always suggest saving the most important photos for later in the day when the sun is lower and the light is softer. Photos taken in direct sunlight tend to be a little stronger and have a lot more contrast. Sometimes we’ll move to a shaded location, such as underneath a tree, in order to counteract this.


While bright sunlight can be tricky to work with outdoors, it actually helps create beautiful indoor photos. A common example of this often occurs during the preceremony preparations when the bridal party is getting ready inside the venue, a hotel room, or another indoor location. In this case, we always shut off the interior lights, as mixing artificial lighting with daylight can produce a strange color-cast. Instead, we use natural light being diffused through window dressings to create a beautiful glow on our subjects.

Indoor-Nighttime (Incandescent Lighting)

Once the vows are read and sealed with a kiss, the party moves indoors. Indoor lighting can vary greatly, but usually features some form of incandescent lighting. This setting can be very beautiful, and usually has a very “warm” feel. While we usually need to utilize some form of “flash” to help make the scene a little brighter, we always try to maintain the ambience and character of the room.

We hope these explanations offered some good insight and will make it easier for you to plan your day. We’re here to guide you and lend you our experience from the many weddings we’ve been so fortunate to be a part of!

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