That title is rather verbose. Sorry about that. Okay, I’m not, because it leads well into the a popular question photographers face from clients (from brides to family sessions).
Have you ever shot at _______________ before?
Being in the DC metro area, having photographed sessions, events, and weddings in four states, it is not necessarily a large possibility that I’ve shot at your venue or location before. When I say, “No,” 2 times out of 10 I get deer caught in headlights look. With a gentle smile, to assuage their concerns, I explain…
First, shooting in new locations is
the best creative inspiration for me.
Working with the same creative vendors is always a great thing, so it’s not to be discredited to hear from a wedding planner, venue manager or florist that they know someone you might like and that they’ve worked with and can assure you are professionals. But, if you’re worried that your photographer can’t perform at your venue because maybe it’s a location not yet in their portfolio, fear not! (Preferred vendor lists are a different topic!)
The right question to ask is . . .
Breaking it down, light is what we are trained with. Whether we specialize in natural light or off camera flash (OCF), your photographer should be able to understand their gear and the lighting in any scenario. Outdoor light is outdoor light whether it is in the middle of DC or in the middle of the Manassas battlefields. There are considerations to be made in any lighting scenario, and as your photographer I will help guide you to the best possible times of the day that would work best for your portraits.
Indoor light can vary depending on building and time of day, whether we are shooting in a museum, a library, a mall or your home. Windows and artificial light also change the way the camera reads light for white balance and exposure.
If you’re actually concerned with the outcome of your photos, start by asking yourself, “Does this photographer show experience in multiple lighting situations?”
Light is love.
Photographers get to see and experience a myriad of venues and locations, and truly that is part of the fun of shooting new people and places. A large part of my style is photo journalistic which naturally brings me to new places and new scenarios, which means I might lose control of my lighting and location and the people. And I love that! Letting life unfold for real is my thing. Mixing photo journalism with fine art (what is fine art photography?!) is in itself an art.
Make sure they are true professionals if you’re worried about the outcome of your photos. If you’re getting married or having your portraits in a venue that could be tricky, check their portfolios for a variety of lighting situations so you can see their adaptability and knowledge of their tools. Your photographer needs to understand light, and as the client, so do you!
What do I need to know about light?
You don’t need to know the way light is read through a camera, but it is probably a good idea your expectations are managed reasonably. You can peek at any photographer’s work and expect a certain look, but if you have your portraits at a different time of day, well… you can expect a possible change in appearance!
Look at the differences in these photos:
Top Left: These dashing groomsmen were captured in full summer sun. This means the sun is high enough in the sky that there isn’t much shade. Potentially you will have uneven lighting on the subjects that looks like spotty light. Typically the clients will be placed in a spot that allows their backs to be to the sun as much as possible, behind a building wall and/or shrubbery/trees that allow for some shade.
Top Right: This amazingly stylish bridal party was in an area with very little to block the sun on Kent Island in Maryland. We were lucky to have a later afternoon sun approaching here and golden hour (the hour before sunset) was approaching. This type of light gives the warm glow and can give some artistic haze to the photos, adding an ethereal and dreamy look.
Bottom Left: I’m the odd duck that loves “blue hour”, the time juuuust after the sun is beginning to set and that golden warmth from golden hour has gone (which means it’s not actually a whole hour). The lighting is very even, leaving no dappled light and can render artistic, moody, and deeply romantic images. Fall images with this light are also very scenic and lovely. Blue hour is the polar opposite to it’s lover, golden hour, giving off cooler tones.
Bottom Middle: Overcast skies are photographers DELIGHT, I tell ya! Seriously. In case you’re not familiar with photography gear, soft boxes are often used in portraits indoors (or outdoors!) to create softer, even lighting. When the sky is overcast, it’s like God is giving us an entire heavenly softbox and I squee in joy every time there are overcast skies. Beautiful even white balance, lighting, tones… it is beautiful. It is flattering. It is perfect. This photo is a prime example of how even this type of lighting is. An intimate wedding at Top of the Town in Arlington could have been super bright and harshly lit due to the height and being at the mercy of the sun’s mood that day, but an overcast early evening sky provided the McBride’s some beautiful ceremony photos.
Bottom Right: Let’s take a moment to adore this precious kiddo! She was a bouncing joy, I tell ya! See that glow? That is the well sought after golden hour lighting that is perfect for any type of outdoor portraits. Do I really need to explain why?
Well informed brides are the least stressed. You shouldn’t have to take a course in photography, learn management and event planning skills, or even know how to read sheet music in order to run your wedding without anxiety, but understanding certain aspects that makes their jobs easier in turn makes your day and the process run more smoothly.
Just remember, you hired your photographer to capture your pictures and you might even have a certain idea in your head how you’re imagining those photos coming out. It’s okay to ask your photographer, “We loved this place for our reception, but now I’m getting worried it may make our photos really dark!” Your concerns are valid and any professional photographer will know how to handle your venues, your concerns, and show you how they will approach your concerns.
Plan on, brides! 🙂