Don't be Afraid of Tough Light
And then we have tough light. This is when...
Not our favorite. (laughs)
No, no definitely not. When things are not really aligning very well for you, like at Susan...
And to demonstrate bad light, we'll talk about two of the best photographers with light, Susan and Cliff Mautner. They got married in very dark, loft space and it was extremely, extremely challenging to get the light just right on them. I mean, for very difficult situations, this is what it looked like most of the time. And this is a good photo of the light on Susan but if you look at Cliff in the background, he has sort of this Zorro strip of light on his forehead. Most of the time his eyes were in complete darkness and it was nearly impossible to work with. So the key here is to just be really, really patient and wait for things to move and fall in right place, like here with Susan and finally here with Cliff. Again, that's that mental aspect of... If I start moving around and try to do something different, the l...
ighting's not gonna change. If I feel like this is the best photo that I need to get in that moment, be extra patient. Wait for someone to move their head just up and down a little bit and really get the best version of that photo possible.
In a tough lighting situation for a ceremony, you're probably gonna end up with even less photos, because you have to be extra patient and you're spending extra time on each photo. But this is especially important in this case, because you don't want to end up with a whole bunch of different angles that you did, but the light never worked out so you end up with nothing that really worked. You're better off working on five different photos that you got the good moment, the light was right, and then you're ready to move on to something else.
And sometimes tough light is interesting light. It's not perfect by any means, but it allowed us to silhouette one of them against the background, while getting good light on them. Again, just waiting for them to turn towards one another, the situation changes and get the best version of that possible. And then when they stepped away from the chuppah where they were standing, the light quality was again very different and it was good in that instance. And then as they walked out, well there was just a matter of being ready with a bounce flash and lighting them on my own, because I knew that that was complete darkness and there was not much to be done there with the ambient light. Sticking with tough light, high noon is some of the worst light that you can possibly work with, but there is still a way to make it work in the photos.
And sometimes we really have no choice. We often, for a ceremony, they'll time their ceremony maybe with sunset. That's great, that's what we want. But then working backwards, if they have a first look, their first look ends up being at a less than ideal time of day. We have the option to do it inside, or if we want to try to kind of work with that light it's just a matter of, again, taking some control and making sure the light is gonna be working for us instead of against us.
A lot of times the first look is gonna happen early in the day because they need to do the first look, they need to do their own portraits, they need to do the formals. They need go through all of those official things on the schedule, and so the first look ends up getting bumped to 12 or 1:00, which is when the light is really the hardest. So, in this case, we really took control. We scouted exactly where we wanted them to do their first look. The reason why we chose this spot is because we knew that it would give the bride a long path to walk down, and that when she would walk in that specific spot she would frame against a dark background. That's all we were looking for. We just wanted light on the bride against a dark background. Simple as that. And then we made sure that the groom was on the left side, so that his shadow would complete the frame at the bottom.
This is at a different wedding but same scenario. With a really long lens, we just placed the groom so that he had the sun behind him and he was against a dark background. And then as she arrived, the moments are happening in that spot, in a situation that we've had some kind of control over. We actually had the bride walk all the way around the block just so she would walk in the right direction.
So again, control in tough situations is really really key, as well as staying very patient with it and allowing the light and the moment to really come together.