The average wedding day has a predictable time frame. Getting ready in the morning, ceremony around lunch time, an afternoon full of photos and then food and partying until the wee hours of the morning. Sounds like a great day, right?
When clients start planning their wedding day, they simply adopt this type of schedule without any thought into the time of day that certain events are occurring. As they discuss the schedule with me, and inform me that photos will take place in the afternoon, they often add in “but it’ll be nice and bright, so that’s great for photos, right?” like they somehow feel like they need to justify their scheduling. Do clients really believe this?
After years of talking to clients and reviewing wedding schedules, it’s pretty obvious (to me, at least) that the vast majority of people not only assume that afternoon photos are a great idea but that bright, harsh, mid-day sun is actually advantageous to photography.
So what’s the scoop on the sun?
Bright and harsh sunlight is bad for photography for several reasons:
- It causes harsh shadows
- It causes people to squint
- The heat makes you sweat
- Your hairstyle suffers (curls, waves, updo’s… no matter what it is, it won’t be able to stand the head and sweat!)
- As little as 10 minutes in harsh sun can cause sunburn during the hot summer months
- The heat of the day couplesd with your heavy dress and multi-layered suit will simply make you uncomfortable and cranky! Some may even feel light headed which could lead to fainting.
If a photographer is working in bright sun, they have to use their flash(es) to fill in the shadows and even then, it’s just not as nice and as soft as the light you would get at sunset or from an overcast sky. So what is a bride to do in order to ensure beautiful photos on her wedding day?
- Make sure you hire a photographer who knows how to use flash
- Beware of those who claim to work “only as natural light photographers” as they may lack the technology and skills to provide you quality photos during excessively bright times of the day
- Opt for creative scheduling
- Can you take your photos in the late afternoon or at dusk?
- Why not choose an indoor location for photos?
- Just because it’s summer it doesn’t mean you can’t take pictures indoors.
- Bonus: Even if it rains, you can still take your pictures!
- Consider a post-wedding bride and groom session
- Sure you’ll have to pay for hair & makeup again, but it’s worth it in order to have a beautiful sunset portrait session!
- If you must schedule your photos during the mid afternoon, choose a photography location that offers large areas of shade
- And I don’t mean simply a wooded area – trees cause spotty light patches which are even worse than full sun!
- What about ceremony photos? If you want an outdoor ceremony in an area where there is no shade, please consider a sunset ceremony!
- No matter how you’re positioned at the alter, if you’re getting married during bright sun either you will be squinting, your spouse will be squinting or all of your guests will be squinting.
- Squinting isn’t a good look for anyone! Avoid it at all costs.
- If you are having a sunset ceremony, make sure your ceremony is set up so that the sun is behind the pastor/officiant and NOT off to the left or the right as it will cast massive, unflattering shadows.
There are a lot of ways to work around harsh, noon-day sun and still provide newlyweds with beautiful memories of their day but it may take a little creative scheduling and planning from the bride and groom and some thorough vendor searching. When your wedding day is over, all you’re left with is your memories so always make your wedding day so that you maximize the opportunity to capture them.