Brides and grooms pray for wall to wall sunshine on their wedding day, but their wedding photographer dreads the concept. What?! Find out why you need an experienced wedding photographer.
Yes, really, in the UK wedding photographers are more accustomed to shooting in overcast or at least partly cloudy conditions and, while beautiful blue skies look great in a photo, the harsh shadows created by direct sunlight will have many a wedding photographer scratching her/his head in frustration. On a bright sunny day we look around for shade cast by a building or dense tree. Without it we really need to start thinking.
I like to shoot into the sun by positioning the bride and groom or group with their backs to the sun so nobody is squinting into the sun, they don’t have harsh shadows across their faces and they are nicely backlit.
Another major challenge is wind. I’m happier with a rainy day than a really windy day. It very, very rarely rains constantly all day long, so at some point in the day there will be an opportunity to nip outside and get some shots. Wind on the other hand is usually constant and really messes with hair and clothing.
Now, add wind to a bright sunny day and the fun really starts for a wedding photographer, because as surely as eggs are eggs the wind will be blowing in the wrong direction. You want to shoot into the sun, but the wind is coming from behind the bride and groom or group, which makes the ladies look like they’re moshing at a heavy metal concert. Not a good look for a wedding.
Dave and Jade’s wedding in Brighton on a gorgeously hot, sunny day in May that was also incredibly windy is a perfect example. The venue was a beachfront hotel with the sun shining straight onto the front of the building with no outside space at the back of the hotel for photographs in the shade. We’d planned photographs in the bandstand, but as luck would have it a wedding was taking place there at the time that we’d set aside for photographs. So, that left only a very crowded, very sunny, very windy beach. What do you do?
Cue well trained assistant who battled the wind holding a scrim (frame with lightweight, translucent fabric spread over it) above her head to diffuse the bright sunlight and cast a soft shade over the bride and groom sitting on the pebbles, thereby eliminating harsh shadows. I shot from above them aiming down to cut out crowds in the background.
You work with what you have. In this case that also meant including the crowds, because it was rather lovely that the beach erupted with applause for the newlyweds when we first appeared.
And then finally….you never give up. You step outside after the wedding breakfast and speeches are over and you find that most people have gone home, the wind has died down and you’re into the “magic hour” or “golden hour”. That time of day photographers love, when the sun is lower in the sky and the light turns a beautiful golden colour.
And you get the shot.