FAQ : Shooting in Bright Sun

Photography

Like any wedding photographer will admit, there are things that happen on a wedding day that are completely out of a photographer’s control. Sure, I can plan and strategically approach a wedding in a myriad of ways, but every ounce of work can be tossed to the side because of bad weather, schedule delays, or a bridesmaid’s missing shoe (yes, it really happened). The most important thing to keep in mind is to stay in control. And smile.

Last Saturday–due to the expansive nature of the wedding venue–I orchestrated where I’d photograph bridal party and family portraits in advance. The bride and groom opted to have all formal portraits taken before the wedding ceremony, so the coordinator and I planned to meet in a place that could accommodate the 24-person bridal party in open shade.

Then plans changed at the last minute.

The reasons for the change don’t matter, because–let’s face it–every wedding photographer has been in a similar pinch at one point in time. But what particularly left me flummoxed was the fact that I had to photograph all the bridal party pictures in full sun. My insides went to mush and I wanted to panic, but instead I smiled and said, OF COURSE!

So here’s where the rubber meets the road: it was bright and hot and I needed to photograph 12 groomsmen, two ring bearers, and the groom on a small patch of grass in the blazing sun. I positioned them on the small patch of grass in front of the hotel suite, with the sun just overhead, and captured this photo using the 24mm lens, also using the light-colored sidewalk in front of the groomsmen as a natural reflector to pop light back into their faces. I was able to light their faces in post a little as well, but the use of the natural reflector made it easier to highlight later…

In the meanwhile, JD captured this candid using the 70-200 lens, metering for the groom’s face…

And I captured this candid of the ring bearer…yes, there are highlights, but given the sun’s position, I’m okay with how things look and the 24mm helped me pick up nearby reflected light while I metered for his face.

Just before I photographed the bridesmaids, I captured individual photos of the groom and each groomsman with the 50mm keeping them in the same position as the group shot so I could leverage the natural reflector from the sidewalk, and ensured I also captured a photo of the groom and his brothers…

At the end of the day, given our circumstances and last minute changes, I’m proud of what we produced in a short amount of time. Yes, I was panicked (and sweating like a swine about to be baconized), but it was important to take what we had and make it work. Now onto the bridesmaids.

Wanting a slightly different look, I utilized the hotel suite to position the 12 bridesmaids behind the bride and this is what resulted…

In the photo above, I carefully placed each bridesmaid in the shade, but used light from reflected sources to illuminate their faces. Both the bride and the maid of honor are picking up light from the terracotta floor in front of them and the bridesmaids behind them are picking up light from the walls in the staircase, and the bridesmaids in the porticos are picking up light from the floor below them (and I also lightened them in post by using a Levels layer in Photoshop and masking it just to light those four girls).

I try to capture 2-3 poses of the bridesmaids (one editorial, one traditional, one casual), so here’s another one that resulted as the videographer asked the girls to look at his camera…

Using natural reflectors on the floor in front of them to off-set the light behind them, I photographed each bridesmaid with the bride…

Whew…so this post got entirely too long…good grief, I can really talk, eh? Talking is my specialty!!! In other news, I hope this post sheds light into how we approach shooting bridal party photos in atypical situations. Now I’m off to not talk anymore. JD thanks you.

Stay Fabulous,
j*