Knowing when to add light for weddings

I have never been to a wedding where something doesn’t go to plan. Because of the constant changing of schedules during a wedding, photographers have to go with the flow on the wedding day.

Laura Espeut shows Scott & Nathália Dunford how to do a pose for a photo during their Wedding [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, f/9, 1/125, Focal Length = 24]

For today’s weddings it is almost impossible for a photographer to work alone. If you are smart then you don’t look for just anyone to help you. You find someone who is better than you in some way.

Laura Espeut is one of the best photographers I know and her personality is so wonderful. Her ability to help communicate with people her concepts to get the best possible photos is incredible. She also does an awesome job shooting creative photos.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/160, Focal Length = 100] photo by Laura Espeut

If you are looking for a photographer to shoot your wedding most likely you will have two photographers. If you ask them about the second shooter, see if they brag about them. I always brag about Laura.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/640, Focal Length = 75] photo by Laura Espeut

Laura knows in photography it is all about emotions on the wedding day. So she is coaching the bridal party to be sure those emotions are right on the surface for the photos.

She also is aware that if you are not capturing an expression then you need to make the light and composition create an emotion.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/250, Focal Length = 28]

Having someone like Laura helps me to relax as much as you can as a wedding shooter. I am able to problem solve the changing light scenarios through the day. If things are not going to plan you often cannot count on natural light to stay constant for you during a wedding.

The one thing that is so difficult to deal with in photography is the natural light. Sometimes it is so incredible for a photo you just have to capture it as it is. However, this photo of the groomsmen is a time where I was fighting with the light. I used an on camera flash to help with the shadows. It just wasn’t working really well.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/200, Focal Length = 38]

I quickly realized that photo wasn’t so good with the harsh shadows. I moved the guys and put the sun to their back and used the flash to just be sure I was getting good light on their faces. Remember great wedding photos are first about capturing expressions.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [NIKON D5, Sigma 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/125, Focal Length = 150]

During the wedding I am alternating between camera bodies and lenses. This photo of the groom saying his vows to the bride I shot a couple ways. The biggest difference is with and without flash. The first one is without flash.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/320, Focal Length = 105]

I think the flash helped a lot on the second photo you see. The expression was better on the first one, but I hope you get my point of how a flash on a sunny day can help over come the harsh shadows around the eyes from the sun overhead.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 320, f/8, 1/100, Focal Length = 48]

Carl House, the venue for the wedding, had a back porch that was perfect for natural light photos. I prefer this over shooting with flashes and having to wait for them to recycle between flashes. Expressions on faces don’t wait for flashes.

So the porch had wonderful light pouring in and none of the was direct. This was creating a massive soft box effect for the posed photos.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 220, ƒ/8, 1/100, Focal Length = 24]

While I would have preferred having the green background, I had already discovered how difficult it was going to be doing group photos in the direct sunlight.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 500, ƒ/10, 1/100, Focal Length = 42]

The best way to describe what light I look for outside for weddings is the shadow side of a building. This is where the sun isn’t the shining directly on the subjects, but rather the large sky creates a large soft box. It is often called open shade.

Scott & Nathália Dunford Wedding [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/125, Focal Length = 24]

When I have to shoot in the direct sunlight as here with the wedding party all waiting for the bride I use a flash to help open up those shadows.